Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wishing for a blizzard (or, Amy loses her mind)

There are times when I edit Amy and Shannon just a bit. I can't help it. My inner English major comes out with her red pen and pushes things around, snips out a word here or there, and splits a paragraph so it will be more accessible to a website reader. So far, they've indulged me and haven't smacked me in the head.

But today I am giving you the fullblown Amy, who has clearly lost it. Wishing for a blizzard? Oh sure, I remember those white-coated moments (a pal in Colorado just told me it looked like every tree had been dipped in marshmallow creme!). And in Wisconsin (where I grew up, mostly) they were lovely, surreal, and constant. Now, however, I'd be quite content with neat 1" dustings that sit perfectly on the grass. The panic and stupidity that follow a snowfall far outweigh its aesthetic qualities.

So here's what we must do: if you actually are in a place with the white stuff, shovel it up and ship it to Amy immediately. Perhaps when Fedex pulls up with 3 truckfuls of snow, she will finally jolt back to reality and yearn for something normal. Like a beach.

Hello, everyone,

Thanks so much to everyone who kindly sent me birthday wishes. I survived the day and actually had a lovely evening, thanks to Shannon planning a fantastic surprise dinner for me. It was lovely and I had a great time. I appreciate everyone who made it a special day in spite of being a sad one. And yes, Jen, Shogun rocks.

Our Lady Comets are now 4-0…I wish the whole world could see them play! We are so proud of their hard work and completely unselfish play. Every single one of our girls scored last Saturday! Shannon is such a great coach and cares so much about all of the kids, not just the ones on our team. Being at the Rec Center on Saturdays is the highlight of the week. I can’t believe the season is already half over.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the chance of a winter storm. What a stupid winter we are having…where is the SNOW??? (Wait, I know about the east coast snow, courtesy of our dear friends out there…LOL) But what about the deep, beautiful snows we used to get here when we were kids? The snow that closed Meridian for the nearly the entire month of January when I was in the 4th grade??? It wasn’t THAT long ago…yikes. All Sahara wanted last winter was a really awesome snowstorm and she didn’t get one. You know the kind I mean...the heavy snow that is so pretty as it piles up in the yard…covering the driveway as soon as Shannon gets it shoveled…really good packing snow that is the BEST for snowballs…coming down so hard that it drowns out any other noise with the slightest whispers of the flakes as they hit the ground…. I love how it sounds outside when it snows. Traffic goes away, and it is so peaceful. I’d give anything to have one of “Sahara’s snows.”

It seems that a lot of people thought Sahara was named after Rick’s album, “Sahara Snow.” But she was actually born three years before it was released. We didn’t even meet Rick until 1998. It is kind of wild, though…almost like a prelude of sorts. Wow, how much has happened since then…

It’s so easy to see Sahara all around me…and to see the goodness she brought into the lives of so many. I can’t count the times that I’ve gone to the grocery store or the mall and been approached by friends of Sahara…classmates, teachers, and so forth…who will tell me something sweet or funny that she did or said…and how special she was.

I received this email from a fellow Rick fan. I asked her if I could share it with all of you and she said yes. Thought you might enjoy reading it.

Hi Amy and Shannon. I have to tell you your little girl was on my shoulder
today. Weird as it may seem, I have been looking for a scrapbook store around here that has a good selection, crop sessions, etc. and have never been able to find one. Today I opened up the phone book and there was "Bonnie's Place For Scrapbooking. I went over after work today and looked around and was pleasantly surprised, it was exactly what I was looking for. I made my purchases and talked with Bonnie the owner and she started telling me about an event that is taking place there in February. Its called Crop For Kids. You won't believe this, the proceeds and money raised benefits of all things The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.

I about fell over when I heard that. Bonnie started telling me about the lady that is doing it and how her daughter, Paige, was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was not quite two at the time. She was telling me all that little Paige had gone
through, how they had to put in a central line to give her radiation because she
had to be sedated, etc. So far since removal of the tumor and all the treatment, it was cancerous, her MRI's have remained clean. They are continually checking her for developmental and cognitive difficulties but all seems fine. I told Bonnie about Sahara and she was saddened by her story. I was just floored after going out. Sahara had to have guided me to that store and I don't believe otherwise. It was amazing she knew right where to send me that I would be comfortable and the store was perfect.

You see, she's still here with us and she's letting us know she's here and I believe with all my heart she will continue to let us know that she's around in little ways. Just keep looking and she'll be here when you least expect it.

Isn’t that a cool story? Thanks to Kim A. for letting me post it on the blog.

It takes awareness to get action. Part of our goal to honor Sahara’s memory is to spread the word about the need for helping families who are struggling with this disease, and to encourage giving to worthy institutions to further advance the hope for a cure. Before Sahara got sick, I never had a reason to think about how many children are suffering with brain tumors, much less how many TYPES of tumors exist. I hope that as awareness increases people will get involved and help families in their local areas the way our community (far and near) has graciously supported us. You just can’t do it alone.

Thanks to everyone who continues to read and post…we are honored and humbled by your presence here.

With love,

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Everyone's a star

Good morning,

The worst of my flu is behind me...I'm down to a lingering wimpy cough and a constant yearning for palm trees. That may have something to do with winter, although it hasn't been that bad. Sunday night's predictions for 70 feet of snow somehow turned into oh, 4 flakes, and that was just dandy with me. (Nancy in Boston, thanks for taking that load for us. No, really.)

The Aldridge clan is keeping busy, doing some very cool things. I've got an update from Shannon below. But here's an inside tip: someone (and it's not the bald man!) is having a birthday tomorrow. Let's give her a giant blogload of birthday kisses.

What’s up, everyone? I haven’t talked to you all in a while, but I thought I’d let you know how things are going. Some days are good, some days I cry off and on all day long. The weird thing about this is when you get up in the morning you don’t know what kind of day you will have.

Today was a good day. We just got home from basketball practice, and any day involving basketball is better. When I last spoke to you about basketball, I wasn’t sure I could do this any longer. I was wrong.

One afternoon in WalMart, a little girl came up to me, and said “Coach Aldridge, I really hope I get on your team this year. My sister played two years for you and had a blast.” Now I’m coaching the Lady Comets again, and I’m commissioner of a girls’ basketball league.

About two years ago, Sahara and I began discussing different ways to run defense and offense. We called this "the tooth and nail,” which my team is running this year - and it’s working. We have jumped out of the gate 2-0, averaging 47.5 points a game, and giving up only 13 points a game.

We have seven girls on our team, five who have played for me in the past, along with two rookies. This team is special. They have dedicated their season to Sahara. They told me they would make me proud - and I told them they already have. I’m proud to have the opportunity to maybe make a difference in the lives of these great girls. God and basketball are a pretty good combination, don’t you think?

We have a very important game this Saturday. We’re playing the Storm, another very talented team. We’d better bring our A-game. More fan support would be awesome! We will be at the SEMO Rec Center on Court B at 8:45 am. Come on out and enjoy some great basketball with a great bunch of kids.

See you on the court!

Coach Shannon

Monday, January 07, 2008

A fresh start

I can't think of a way to start this without whining. I wanna go back to Florida! I want this blasted crud that's invaded my respiratory system to just go, already. I'm being good, getting rest, vitamins, and taking my medicine, but this flu is a tenacious little beast. I wanna go back to Florida and rest under a palm tree.

The good news is, I've got lots from Amy, so I'll shut up and try to imagine this morning's sunrise behind a bunch of palm trees. Wah.

Hello, everyone, and happy new year to all of you.

We survived Christmas...thanks to being far away, in the sun, where we could relax, think and just stare at the water for a while. We went to Key Largo, and the little resort we stayed at was truly a slice of paradise. It was small and private and absolutely gorgeous.

For a while, we were anonymous, and I think that's what we needed as we tried to clear our heads. We had the best seafood, and I was delighted to have key lime pie for dessert each evening. :)

New Year's Eve was actually the most difficult part of the holidays for me. At about a quarter til midnight,I began to cry...and I bawled my eyes out for about an hour and a half. Knowing that the year was ending, replaying so many defining moments in my mind, and simply not having Sahara here to toast at was incredibly hard.

We always toasted with Coke in wine glasses...LOL. Afterward she would run out on the deck and scream "HAPPY NEW YEAR!" at the top of her lungs. She loved that little tradition. I did too.

Somehow, we're putting one foot in front of the other and are living through the days. Saturday marked two months since she passed away. Those monthly anniversaries are really going to burn for a while.

We're both staying busy with work, and that is a good thing.Thank goodness Upward basketball started on Saturday! Our Lady Comets won their first game, and all of the girls played great and had so much fun. Shannon coached that game, then reffed five more games after that. He was beat when he got home late in the afternoon - but he had a blast with all the kids. It was a wonderful day. So many people came up to us, talking and remembering how much Sahara enjoyed basketball...and how GREAT she was at the game. She was deeply missed on the court. But I know she was there in spirit. It was tough at times, but I know that's where she would want us to be on Saturday mornings.

Also on Saturday, I had a WONDERFUL pair of visitors, Sahara's dear friends Caroline and Lexi (and Tanda,too :). They brought me some cookies and hung out for a while. I thank God that Sahara had such great friends as these. I love you guys so much!!! I'm constantly blessed by Sahara's friends...I get the best hugs when we see each other around town, and I received some wonderful Christmas cards with such heartfelt writings (a special thanks to are a sweetheart). It all helps and means so much.

Y'all take care and have a great week!

With love,

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Time may change me...I can't trace time

Happy 2008, everyone. I was never so happy to mark the new year. At midnight, I raised a glass to new beginnings, to better times, and choked back the last mouthful of tears on 2007. Good riddance.

Amy and Shannon marked the holidays quietly--and managed to get away for a few days in the sun, too. She described it as a mix of laughter, tears, and lots of silence. Silence, when staring at palm trees and the ocean, is an incredibly healing force. I'm filled with hope for them this year.

J and I returned from our mini-break on Wednesday morning and by Friday I realized I'd brought a souvenir, not THAT! Some wretched coughing child passed on the speed-plague and I've been miserable for days. Go buy stock in Kleenex. I'll make you rich.

My resolution: Laugh more, and stop taking it all so seriously. Life is too damn short.