Tribute Thursday: The Boland Family

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Trina, Heather and me

 

The first time I saw Heather Boland, she was tearing up the elliptical at the gym wearing a scarf to cover her bald head courtesy of cancer treatment. I didn’t know Heather yet, but had heard she was battling cancer. A quick burst of an inhale followed by sadness and “Oh God, her kids are so young.” I didn’t think it was my business to say anything to her, but I’ve changed my thinking on that now. A year later, we met in our boys’ kindergarten class. All of our kids aligned perfectly. Two best friend boys and two best friend girls. Heather and I were in that void where there’s not enough money for childcare to work, so we took our kids around and got to talk…a lot.

One day, she practiced her speech about her experience with mouth cancer for Trina and me on my porch. Finding out. Her husband Tom leaning over, grabbing her hand. Worrying about being there for her kids. All three of us were in tears. Soon after, Heather and her family moved to Boston. We were devastated. I found myself in a deep depression, missing them so much. A year later, Steven was still drawing storybooks called: “My Best Friend Tyler Lives in Boston.” Brian flatly said: “I’ll give them two years. They’ll be back.” Okay, psychic guy. They are back, just in time for my cancer adventure.

This time, Heather leaned over and put calm hands on my hands. “We are going to get you through this,” she said. A part of my fear fell away when she said that because she had made it through. Despite taking on a demanding full-time job, she checked on me and brought us our favorite food from Jade Teahouse. They took our kids for day-long playdates. She texted me all the time. Having help from the Bolands through this was an ever-steady presence of warmth. Plus, the kids got to experience lots of play dates from their good friends Tyler and Tegan. And, Tom gave Brian comfort that can only come from someone who’s been there. So happy you guys are back! So thankful you’re our friends.

THREE POSITIVES:

1 – “Waiting for the Brazilian” Comedy for a Cure show is almost here! Next Tuesday night. Harvey’s requires a two-item menu minimum, so I’m going to have dinner down there before the show. Doors open at 6 if you want to join me. If you are a cancer survivor, call Harvey’s (503) 241-0338 and get your FREE SEAT.

2 – Livvie’s team is in the final four of Battle of the Books! Today’s matches will determine who goes on to the next level from her school. I was a big proponent of making Battle of the Books a contact sport. Sadly, I was the only one.

3 – Last weekend, I overcame annual flashback sadness. Last year, I was in the middle of chemo when Liv and I went to the Evergreen water park. I only went down the slide three times with Liv. It was sad thinking about the depleted state chemo put me on, until I went screaming down the slide about ten times this year. Brian and I even got faux romance time, re-enacting the scene from Malcolm in the Middle when the mom and dad make out in the wave pool and Brian Cranston spits out a band-aid. You gotta grab those precious moments while you can.

Had it? Lose it

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You know that day when everything sets you off? That’s been the last few days for me. The kids left rotting apples in my freshly cleaned car, then complained Ew, it stinks in here. We tried to take the kids for a fun day at a water park, but had to turn around when one kid got car sick. That was because air isn’t really a breakfast food. When Steven said he couldn’t eat dinner because he doesn’t like mushrooms, I let him have it with: “YOU MAKE DINNER!” Brian sent me out the door with a bottle of red. So I went to Maria’s house. But first, I stopped at Saint Honore to fetch chocolate. Maria’s kids laser-beamed on the box and kept lingering around to “talk” to us or “read” around us, thinking we’d share. Finally, Maria let them have it. “When you have a play date, I’m going to READ in the middle of it!” Awesome. There are so many reasons why she’s my friend. So this is an early Tribute Thursday…on Wednesday.

We met while our babies were squiggly slabs on blankets at a new mom group at Good Sam. We realized we lived in the same neighborhood and started hanging out immediately. It was that foreign land of leaving full-time employment and finding yourself a parent. When I started getting pulled under by postpartum depression, Maria noticed and told me, saving me from going under more. I went to the doctor immediately and took care of that. More kids, soccer games, pizza nights and mom nights out later, we’ve stayed friends through it all. Maria delivered soy lattes to my door and hung out with me during chemo. Her kids were awesome too – Mae drew pictures for me. Her boys picked out a Star Wars warrior that looked like me when I was bald. I took it to chemo with me. Her husband Mark and Brian downed many beers during all this.

Last night, we were talking about financial struggle the families around here and probably the entire country are going through. We’re all in that together – trying to keep money coming in while being available for the kids. It’s just always a huge comfort knowing you’re so not the only one. It’s okay that you erupt once in a while, especially when you find a way to drop it and keep going. Thanks, Raggett family for being so amazingly loving, supportive and THERE for us.

THREE POSITIVES:

1- Yesterday, an entire class of preschoolers rushed toward me on a sidewalk as if I were a walking ice cream truck. When I walked up the same sidewalk on my way to Maria’s, I looked down to see those kids had drawn hearts and “I love you” all over the sidewalk in chalk. Someone once told me kids are “master teachers of love.” True!

2- I’m in a WAY better mood today. So is everybody else in the Sturkie household.

3- I’m performing at the Spilt Milk show tonight at O’Connors in Multnomah Village. If you can’t make the Feb. 4th Brazilian show, this is a really good one. It’s small and the local comics are from my old show, TIME OUT. Plus, dinner’s good and I always love seeing Paul, our waiter.