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The Longest Journey

by - Friday, June 20, 2008

This is not a post about home décor or renovations, so if that’s what you’re looking for, feel free to skip this one.

I know this blog is mainly about home-building but on occasion that means talking about the special people in my life who help make this house a home. Willow is one of those people. I’ve known her about eight years now and we were fast friends right from the beginning. Did you ever meet someone and feel an instant connection, feel like there was a reason you couldn’t fully comprehend at the moment as to why they walked into your life? That’s Willow. She’s a beautiful sweet spirit, inside and out and she has changed my life immensely.

Willow is 33 years young. For the last three years she has been battling cancer, first, breast cancer, and now, something bigger. But you would never tell it to look at her. I often find myself trying to squeeze into her social calendar… in between her rock-climbing, biking, snowboarding, yoga, skating, helping friends, spending time with family, socializing, and volunteering, there’s only ever a few brief moments to share a meal and catch up! We talk about life, love, and the universe often and I can’t help but be inspired by her presence. It is one of optimism and grace, of calm serenity and gentle strength, of grabbing hold and embracing every last bit of happiness – and quietly tolerating the sadness.

This weekend, Willow will take on one of her biggest challenges… she will bike over 200km in The Ride to Conquer Cancer benefiting the Princess Margaret Hospital. Is she a cyclist? No. Will she finish on her own? Its doubtful. Will there be pain? Most definitely. Yet, she will do it, showing the same determination she does in everything she does. And next week, she will start another round of chemo. Remarkable.

Willow doesn’t know it yet but there will be 26 of us there to cheer her on at the start and greet her at the finish line. It’s a small thing, all of us being there for 6:30am tomorrow, compared to her journey. And at the end of it all, someday soon, Willow and I will be sitting on a sofa in my half-finished living room, talking about the bike ride and the chemo and the kitchen renos and the crazy garden…because life goes on and the best we can hope to do is spend it wisely, in homes filled with love, with those we love.

Go fille folle! I’ll see you at the finish line.

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8 comments

  1. Peachy Keen7:09 PM

    Your post has brought tears to my eyes (all the way across the world, to me in Melbourne Australia). Thank you for sharing something...someone so special with all of us. To Willow, what a beautiful inspiration person you must be, its clear you bring such a wonderful joy to this person.
    BOth getting married and renovating are all encompassing at times, yet it is so special you have taken the time to appreciate some so wonderful in your life, and share it with us.

    Thank you again.

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  2. I have a friend who's riding tomorrow for his mother who died of cancer. She kept it to herself until she was literally on her deathbed and finally called him back from university. His father didn't even know as he worked abroad at the time...he too came just in time to say goodbye.

    Your friend Willow sounds amazingly brave and strong. Good luck to her on her ride this weekend!

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  3. You've got things right over there. All the best to you, Willow, and the 26 wonderful friends.

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  4. That is so inspiring. Willow sounds like an amazing person. We'll all be cheering her on! -Julia

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  5. Thanks so much for sharing your friend with us! Your post really touched me.

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  6. peachy keen, phoenix, s&n, julia, michelle,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. I'm so lucky to be able to share Willow's story with others... she truly is a remarkable individual.

    I'm glad to report that Willow DID finish the ride! She was completely surprised to see us all there (one friend even flew all the way over from Hong Kong to be there)...but I don't think she realizes how much she gave back to us this weekend. We all left feeling truly inspired and empowered to do more, achieve more, and be more in our own lives.

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  7. What a fierce spirit your friend Willow is! An inspiration to us all, especially during those "I'm having a bad day" moments. She reminds us to make the best of what we're given.
    Thx for sharing =)

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  8. Anonymous9:25 PM

    Go Willow!!!!!

    Love, LOVE, LUVVVVVV these types of stories. Lost my mummy to horrible cancer, my dear aunt (mummy's sister) is scheduled for lump removed from breast this month. Willow sounds like the trooper my mum's sis is.

    GO WILLOW!!!!

    Luv Daisy

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