I know it’s been a while since I post to this blog, so I would like to apologize to my legion of loyal readers …. all three of you. But in all seriousness, I can say the lapse in entries is a good thing. I thoroughly enjoy writing, but my passion for it grew out of a need for personal therapy. Such was the case with yesterday’s entry to my personal blog. The fact that I haven’t written in a while means that life in general has been pretty good to me, and I thank God for all the blessings I have been given.
But don’t panic! This entry is not a result of anything bad or negative. Quite the contrary, this entry is a result of a very, very positive experience that occurred today. Lee and I took my kids this afternoon to have ice cream. On the surface there is nothing spectacular about that, but this was no ordinary ice cream date with the kids.
We met up at the Marble Slab ice cream parlor with new friends of ours and their kids. Fellow Sister Hazel fans (a.k.a. Hazelnuts) that we had met as a result of being part of the Hazelnut community and ‘conversing’ via the Hazelnut message boards. Jeff – or as he’s better known, Ffej – we met over the Memorial Day weekend at the Sister Hazel Beach Bash in South Carolina. He’s great and he was there with his three kids Tanner, Emma and Abby. We had not personally met Lis – flanked by her boys Tyler and Dylan – or Joe, but we knew them from the message boards, and it was as if we had known them all our lives. We were relative strangers acting as lifelong friends.
It was a pretty amazing site. Three families, seven kids, all sharing ice cream because of a rock band’s music. What made it extra special was that we got to meet Tanner. Tanner was diagnosed in March with Wilm’s Tumor cancer, and he has been bravely fighting it since his diagnosis. I am amazed not only by his strength and perseverance, but also by the emotional outpouring of support from the Hazelnut community for Tanner, Ffej and the rest of their family. Tanner and Ffej have drawn inspiration from the movie Remember the Titans and the line shared by both linebackers in the film. It’s the line that unified the team. “Left side, strong side.” Quote that line to any Hazelnut and they’ll know immediately and exactly to what you are referring.
Personally speaking, I am left in admiration of my new friend Ffej. The sense of grace and composure with which he conducts himself is refreshing and inspiring. I am sure many tears have been shed in private and behind closed doors, but this afternoon it was all about the celebration of life and the absolute enjoyment of everyday things. For me, going out for ice cream will never be the same.
I am blessed with two wonderful, beautiful and healthy children. I thank God everyday for Natalie and Daniel, and I pray that He continues to watch over them and keep them safe. I am also very blessed to contribute in a small way to the support structure for Tanner, Ffej and their family. Even though I have known Ffej for less than two weeks, I smile at the idea of being one more thread of rope in his net of reassurance. One more link in a chain of strength for him and Tanner.
This evening was definitely a good time and a positive experience. More importantly, it was an experience I got to share with the most important people in my life – Natalie, Daniel and Lee – and, of course, my new lifelong friends!
Lis and Joe, it was an absolute pleasure meeting you guys. As you said, we are looking forward to good times ahead. Ffej, thank you for the opportunity to take part in this moment with you and your kids. Life has its ups and downs, and today will always be a major up for me. See you next week!