I have to say it's been a bit of split personality week. In the midst of all the joy and excitement of Christmas preparation, too-close-for-comfort basketball games and 60 degree temperatures(!), for many of my friends and me the one year anniversary this week of the passing of Mathias, a 13 year old boy from my area who battled cancer hung around us like a cloud.
It was a year ago that I took my husband and boys to attend a memorial service overflowing with people of all ages to celebrate his too brief life. Two days later, I went to the first funeral I had ever been to for a child that young and then we huddled around each other in the cold wind at a cemetery overlooking the beautiful Virginia landscape to say good-bye. I am certain, more than ever, that time does not heal the kinds of wounds Mathias's family and friends suffer. But I also saw examples all week of those people doing amazingly generous things to honor Mathias. Because of that I am certain that those scarred by the difficult days a year ago have found their scars not signs of weakness and defeat, but signs of strength, courage and the motivation to be light in a dark world. I think our buddy would be proud.
So I'm going to include some silly and some serious on the 5 Things on a Friday list today. I think Mathias would be down with that. Still, I know what comes first.
1. THE LESSONS OF MATHIAS GIORDANO
Chemo bag covers in bright, colorful fabric are sewn by Team Mathias supporters and donated to hospitals in his name.
This is my family's orthodontist, Dr. Casagrande, and his staff. Kyle had an appointment on Monday so when I walked in wearing my #MathiasStrong shirt (and with my very straight teeth!), I was definitely not alone.
This is a buddy o' mine who is battling cancer like a champ and just this week received a Team Mathias care package filled with essentials and lots of fun for his stay in the hospital. Care packages can be tailored to specific children's interests and also include things like blankets, hats, pillow cases to be decorated with fabric markers, Itunes and Amazon gift cards, Mad-Lib and Word Find books and a "Medi-Port Buddy" which helps protect sensitive port areas from seatbelts. To learn how to sponsor a Team Mathias Care Package, go to Team Mathias on Facebook.
This is Sydney, who is fighting leukemia LIKE A BOSS, as Mathias would say. Kyle's Kamp was so honored to have Mathias participate in and support our events. Sydney came to the Kyle's Kamp Holiday Store after her appointment to shop for her family members. She also grabbed a gigantic stuffed elephant and made a break for it running through the waiting room. "May Kissmus! May Kissmus!", she said. Oh, my heart.
I saw countless photos on the Team Mathias facebook page of those donating blood, noticing the sunrise, lighting candles and generally living their lives with the sense that they had learned something important and profound from a life that lasted only thirteen years. You did great work, Mathias Giordano. Great work.
On to Silly Stuff:
2. GRANDMA SARACEN OF FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
After coming home from a day with Sydney and friends on Monday, it was awesome to sit down on the couch with my boys and just hang out. We happened on some Friday Night Lights reruns. I know I've mentioned my love and adoration for this television series once or 612 times. If you haven't watched it, I don't even know what to say to you except please reevaluate your life. Also, I'm just wildly jealous because you have a world full of Tim Riggins, Buddy Garrity and Coach and Mrs. Tami Taylor stretched in front of you like a golden street to tv heaven. And that should make you feel just like this
Even though our Tami is, of course, everyone's favorite female on the program because she is perfect in every way, lately when I watch the show, I have such a heart for Grandma Saracen. We watched an episode on Monday when Mrs. Saracen poked her head out the door to see Matt and Landry throwing the football together. She took one look through her enormous glasses and said, "Landry, what are you doing with that football? You throw like a girl." Later on when Coach Taylor visited the house, she was just plumb beside herself she was so darn happy to see him so she jumped up to get him a piece of cake. She just reminds me of my grandmom so much, I could cry. In a week, that seemed a little sad, Grandma Saracen made me smile. I might keep some FNL in the DVR just for days like that.
3. COME THOU FOUNT OF EVERY BLESSING
Speaking of Friday Night Lights, this version of this hymn was playing in the episode where Coach Taylor has his first game with the East Dillion Lions and he has to forfeit due to his players taping up broken limbs and spitting blood and losing teeth in the locker room at halftime because they're just getting destroyed. Your heart is breaking for Coach Taylor's sweet face while Tami just watches him with quiet grace and you cry and clutch your chest and think yet again that THIS IS THE BEST SHOW EVER CREATED. Anyway, do not leave this space without listening to this version of this old familiar hymn. DO NOT LEAVE HERE. REALLY. It's stunning.
4. FETA & WALNUT SPINACH SALAD
Some how I've included a recipe in 5 Things on a Friday every week even though my spiritual gifts are best used way outside the kitchen. Still, in the case of this salad, I nailed it. I have no idea where the recipe came from but I've made it for years. I made the dressing recently which is the key to the whole thing, so I've eaten it every single day this week. It's the best salad ever. My kids won't touch this with a 10 foot fork, but that's their loss. Here you go.
1 lb. spinach, cleaned, dried and torn into bite size pieces
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, sliced thinly and tossed with lemon juice
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup basil leaves, minced (or 1 TBSP dried)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
Toss together spinach, avocado, onion, feta and walnuts. Place basil leaves and garlic in food processor and process well. Add vinegar, sugar and salt and pepper and process again. With processor running, slowly add olive oil. Pour over salad.
5. DRAPER JANE MITTENS
I know it is quite teenager-ish but I follow Reese Witherspoon on Instagram. Listen, it's not like I follow the Biebs. Yet. Anyway, Reese is a delight machine and her new clothing and accessories line, Draper Jane, is adorable. Can you even stand these mittens? They would be perfect for me except for $75 is more than I tend to spend on mittens and we're looking a 70 degree weekend around here. Not that I'm complaining because the Texan in me says, THANK YOU, SWEET JESUS.
I hope you all have a glorious weekend! I'm off to help some of the bravest little people on the planet shop for gifts at the Kyle's Kamp Holiday Store again today. Make someone smile today and I'll bet it'll come right back at ya.