I was all set (no pun intended) to offer a rare tennis post to you today. After all, the name of this blog is Tennis, Trisomy 21 and Taking in Life Together, and the Australian Open, one of the sport’s four major tournaments, just ended with two stunning champions in the women’s and men’s singles.
But after reading a Facebook post this morning and taking it in all day, I’ll wait until my Wednesday post for the Aussie Open.
Instead, I want to dedicate my weekend post to an angel named Ann.
Through her husband, my best buddy in college, she also has a connection to tennis.
Ann lost her long, brave fight with cancer a few days ago. To quote her husband, “Ann left her earthly body behind and passed on to the next realm.”
I only met Ann a few times. She was one of the most beautiful, natural, kind, generous angels one encounters while being alive in this realm, the realm that allows us to read this post, the realm that allows us to feel frustration and elation when raising a young child, the realm that allows us to dread an impending visit to the dentist, to decide how to spend a Sunday evening, to ponder what our work week may look like, what appointments we choose to keep and to forego.
Ann would have handled all of this with grace, made it look easy, and never — not once — would have complained.
Ann was married to the man who gave me hope, who turned my life around. Whether he knows it or not, he saved me in college when we were both aspiring journalists. He had the courage to get to know me and then invited me to change my dorm room, on paper a simple turn of events.
Except that a few months before, taunted beyond my high threshold of tolerance of suspected of being gay in the ’80s, I had attempted suicide.
I did not succeed. Luckily.
Chris brought me into friendships and acceptance that saved me at college. He played tennis with me. When he invited me to meet his family and his stunning girlfriend and later wife, I could only love her.
So many times in life we take people for granted.
I always knew Ann was an angel. My heart is heavy tonight for Chris and for their daughter Diana named after our beloved Princess Diana.
When I joined a volunteer meeting at our YMCA today in Hawaii, a state Chris has always loved, and sat with my young daughter for two hours, I could only think of Ann, how much she would given to have those hours in this realm with her daughter, how much she would have contributed in modest ways to the gathering, of her gentleness, of her astonishing aura.
I sat across at the Y today from a young woman with a young daughter. The woman has Stage 4 cancer. Gently, after reading her body language and receptivity, I told her everything I knew about teas and other ways to survive, even though I do not myself have cancer but have lost too many friends who have been unlucky and I have read everything I could to figure out what can one do.
I never asked for the name of my new friend at the Y today. I only wanted to emulate my dear Ann, to try to be an angel.