Posted: May 20, 2009 in My Life as an Artist, Uncategorized

This past weekend I had the opportunity to take part in the Relay for Life to raise money for the American Cancer Society. It was my first time doing this event and so I was anxious to give it a try. 

We talked, laughed and walked the track all hours of the night surrounded by lit luminaries and remembering those loved ones who have succumbed to cancer. It was a bitter sweet evening that ended with torrential downpours just as the last tents were being loaded and the last trash can emptied. 

I have lost two very dear friends to cancer. Heidi was my college buddy who would procrastinate on art projects and pull it all together rather hastily in an attempt to create a masterpiece. She was a free spirit who loved art and music, mushrooms and the Beatles. I remember pulling an all nighter (actually 3 in a row) because we had blown off the entire semester of our AutoCAD class. Design a 4500 square foot, 2 story architectural rendering complete with shadow studies and land elevations…not a problem, right? We were up 4 days and 3 nights straight! We finished early – a whole three hours before class! 

We went to the local Big Boy and Heidi ordered pancakes when the waitress came to bring our coffee. That would have been OK but we had already ordered 15 minutes earlier. Last thing I told her on that day was to NOT go to sleep. I did not see Heidi later in class that day. She did sleep in and I have no idea if she passed the class or not. 

I moved to North Carolina in 1993 and it was a year or so later when I learned Heidi had cancer. We spoke several times and every time she asked about my artwork. She told me to keep it up. For her, for me and for my daughter. I made a trip to Wisconsin with my daughter and we met for lunch in Milwaukee. My daughter and Heidi shared a root beer float and Heidi had to be helped to her car early because she did not feel well. I was so glad I made that trip to see her. I got a letter from her sister that told of Heidi’s dream to be an artist and how much she appreciated meeting my daughter.

Heidi passed before I even made it back to North Carolina…

Jump forward about two years and we bought a house. Some time passed before a neighbor saw a sticker on my vehicle that said “Mean People Suck”. Karen, you have got to meet this person! One grilling out led to another and before you knew it, Karen and I were talking til wee hours of the night with just a campfire to entertain us. We discussed life after death, politics, religion, art, marriage, children you name it. We had plans to legally parent each others kid if something happened to us (she had a little boy). 

Karen and her husband went through a separation and I lost touch with her for a while. She came to my studio and asked me to design a tattoo for her. She had moved to Durham and we both got busy. When I didn’t hear back from her in a while, I decided to just let it go and wait until she was ready. 

Months went by then came the email. A long one. Karen had advanced stages of cervical cancer and was being treated at Duke Medical Center. I first learned of this June of 2003 and Karen passed away September that same year…

  1. christina says:

    Thanks for sharing that story. We had a team at Relay as’s an amazingly positive experience.

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