Monday, February 13, 2012


This is really not going to mean much to anyone that doesn't understand The Backstory.  Oh those backstories.

Rachel was laid to rest this past weekend.  Several of our blogger buddies were in attendance.  The memorial service was streaming live.  I watched from my home on my computer screen.  I had to leave shortly after the second half began. Tears spilled from my eyes as I listened to what her family had to say.  Sometimes, laughing through the tears.

Sarah Horton opened the memorial with most beautiful thoughts explaining how she came to meet Rachel. They met in the blogosphere.  And they quickly became the closest of friends.  This past October, on what is designated as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness DAY in the midst of Pinktober, Rachel and Sarah let us share in their friendship.  Rachel wrote about Sarah.  Likewise, Sarah wrote about Rachel.

Don't even get me started on a path of ONE DAY being dedicated to raise awareness of WHY women die of breast cancer. ONE DAY?  Hell, in ten days, three people are gone from my life as a result of Metastatic Disease.

I just want to make a few observations about a couple of things that happened over the past week.  First, I was feeling really really really REALLY exceptionally horribly shitty last Monday.  At some point after learning about Rachel but before hearing about Susan, I found an email.  It was from Rachel.  It was over a week old.  "Let's Skype."  It was difficult for Rachel to type.  A Skype talk would be much easier and far more fun.  Seeing that email hours after she was gone destroyed me.  I was crushed.  I tried to put it out of my head.  On Saturday, it was in my face again.

Rachel's wake and memorial service took place in New Jersey.  It is a two hour drive from my home.  I wanted to go on Friday.  As the week progressed, I grew more and more weary.  My own backstories.  I was overcome by fatigue.  There was no way I could make the drive to Jersey.  I went to bed reasonably early on Friday night and still, I didn't awaken until noon on Saturday.  Within 30 minutes, I was on my laptop watching the stream.

Approximately 90 minutes into the memorial, I had to leave.  I was in my car, saddened.  I tend to get a bit weird in the car and I was thinking about everything, but in this moment, it was mostly about Rachel.  Firstly, I missed the Skype opportunity because I have over two-freakin-thousand emails.  (I'm reminded of a line in Sex and The City movie, "There was no better time I could think of to hire an assistant...." remembering that the hired assistant was played by Jennifer Hudson.... one more weird-ish thing.... keep reading.....)  Secondly, I had to leave the "memorial" shortly after Sarah began speaking in the second half of the service.  I was pretty irritated with myself and began doing this bargaining thing I tend to do hoping I could summon some weird-ish thing to enable me to stop beating myself up over all of my shortfalls.

I think I was having a bit of a conversation in my head with Rachel while I was driving.  I have no business doing anything other than giving the road my full attention of late, but still, my mind was on Rachel as I flipped through the radio stations. Suddenly, I heard the middle of a familiar song from Jefferson Airplane...... the song is called Volunteers of America and the line that was being sung as I hit that station?  "Got a revolution, got to revolution."  Like I said, I get weird with the car and the radio and when I need guidance, if a song comes on the radio that is so blatantly attached to the thoughts in my head.... well.... I GET Weird.  Having referred to the collective group as Rachel's Rebels in one of my posts from last week, the weight lifted.

Later that day, I thought about how happy I was to know that Sarah traveled all the way from Liverpool.  Gayle, Kathi and Stacey were there representing all of us which made me equally happy.  I began poking around all of the blogs.  You know how that goes, one blog and the comments lead to another blog and those comments to yet one more blog and suddenly four hours have passed and it's 3AM and I'm still reading.  I realized that the post I wrote for Gayle at her invitation had comments from both Rachel and Susan.  In some odd way, that comforted me.  It's more of my weird-ness.... like the radio thing.

Last night, I settled down to watch the Grammy's.  I'm not usually an award show whore.  However, with Whitney Houston passing away just one day prior, I simply had to watch the show.  In its entirety.  To see Bruce Springsteen open the show was a reminder of something Sarah said one day earlier about her visit to the states to stay with Rachel.  She mentioned that they visited the Stone Pony and sadly, Bruce wasn't there.  (If you have no knowledge of Bruce, Stone Pony is a "club" on the Jersey Shore......Springsteen started there and sometimes shows up there STILL, unannounced and impromptu and much to the obvious delight of anyone fortunate enough to be hanging out on one of those nights)

Still glued to the television, I watched that heart wrenching performance by Jennifer Hudson (told you to keep reading) singing in tribute to Whitney.  Complete sidebar and just one more odd thing?  The day before Whitney died, Jennifer was being interviewed and she was talking about how the most thrilling moment in her life was having Whitney Houston present her with her grammy award.  How Whitney inspired her.  One day later, Whitney is gone and Jennifer, who was not scheduled to perform was being asked to sing, "I Will Always Love You."  Talk about grace under pressure and keeping it together in the face of sheer heartbreak.  It was like what Sarah did on Saturday afternoon for Rachel.

This is all oddly connected in some other weird-ish radio-esque stupid way.  It's the way my brain zig zags and connects the dots..... What is the connection.....Why does the Grammy Award Show that aired last night have any significance to anything this Monday morning??

You see, while the show opened with a performance by Bruce Springsteen from Rach's neck of the woods in New Jersey, the show closed with a performance by Paul McCartney.  Sir Paul of Liverpool..... Sarah's neck of the woods.  And as the final notes were being played, Bruce Springsteen was back on the stage.  Both he and Paul McCartney strumming their guitars which they both soon lifted into the air as I listened to the final words.....

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make......

Much love left this planet on Monday.  While our hearts may be broken, they are filled with that very same love.....

Yes, In the end, the love you take IS equal to the Love You Make.......


  1. Wow, Annemarie, no wonder you're not sleeping! You got a lot going on in that head of yours. You've made some great connections here. You know, this past Tuesday, I flipped to the 80's station in my car and "Walking on Sunshine" was playing. I hadn't heard it in years, but knew Rachel liked it. Weird when that stuff happens, but in some sense it made me feel better because I was also hard on myself for never having made the drive down to see her before. I should have. And by the way, thinking of you and all the other cyber sisters who couldn't attend on Saturday, also made me feel better. We were together, for Rachel.

  2. Stacey,
    Thank you so much for leaving me this note. You KNEW I had every intention of getting in my car on Friday. I told you privately but I said I was afraid something would happen....... and I would feel horrible if I said something "in public." I do a good enough job of beating myself up over things (as you can see!) without adding to the mess.... I AM glad you were there and I really did feel your presence was on behalf of so many. Last night? The connection between the performances opening and closing that grammy show DID send chills down my spine. Unless one knew that Rachel was in close enough proximity to Bruce S's stomping grounds or that Sarah lived in Liverpool...... AND unless one understood the connection between Rach & Sarah...... how could that mean anything to anyone, right? My mind works in bizarre ways.... Always has.... I hope, always will. I love to be able to pick up on the subtle nuances (or in this case, for me, it was hit me in the head with a hammer, why don't you?)....... Suffice to say, those small subtleties have caused "relationship issues" on more than one occasion...... YEARS ago, and I'm talking many years ago, a therapist told me, "You have good instincts. Learn to trust them." Last week, someone left a comment on one of my blog entries, "Trust your instincts." I think I cried when I read it..... And that goes more to my own backstories...... Love to you, Stacey..... We will do a meet-up soon, too.

  3. We missed you, AM, but you were with us in our hearts. It would have utterly crushed me, too, to find that message from Rachel about Skyping...

    The recordings to the live feeds are linked on this post, so you can see what you missed:

    Dear AM, WE should Skype soon! xoxo, Kathi

  4. I would love that, Kathi. And, Sarah's Ronnie got those feeds on twitter and the second I saw them, I sat for an hour crying my eyes out watching what I missed......Sarah....Gayle and then you..... and the girl who I believe spoke just before Anthony who was not scheduled to speak? SHE broke my heart... never mind... everyone broke my heart in some way or another..... No one more than Rach's beloved. He's got the means and the NY community? Well.... just let me loose and we will start making shit happen.


  5. Very moving. I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet friend Rachel. I get guidance from the radio to, it's like a message from God (not literally) , just meaning that answers come or validations come or whatever.

    Sometimes I hear the song right before it plays.

    You are very special. Peace and Blessings to you..........

    1. I am smiling (really laughing!) about the radio being the message from God. I think that, too.... and yes, not literally... Or it's my deceased dad....I just know it makes me feel better....Like my thoughts are on the right track or someone is telling me to "lighten up" ... or "pay attention" .....

      I hope you are doing well..... I think of you often...

  6. Oh AnneMarie, I am so sorry. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post. You are amazing.

    This past week has been so overwhelming. I haven't been able to write on my blog. I feel badly about that. I wrote something (one of those 3:00 in the morning things) and later saw that it made absolutely no sense at all, so I deleted it. Rachel's passing and then Susan's later on Monday was just too much. It has just been one incredibly overwhelming week . . . and yet, the world keeps moving and nothing seems to slow down. I had to work and could not watch Rachel's service streaming online. I am hoping it might be available to see after the fact. Sadly, I have a funeral to go to this Wednesday as a friend of mine passed away on Friday, he was 46.

    My head and heart are heavy this week. One thing I know for certain from this week is that I want to make the time to connect more with my online friends. I have had this thought for sometime about getting in my car (I would need a new one to do this) and taking a road trip across the country to meet all of my fellow breast cancer bloggers. I have this idea . . . I will write about it soon . . . would actually love to talk with you about my idea. I have imagined this map in my head, with points on it that I would drive to . . . Rachel was on that map.

    I am so grateful for you, and grateful for this blogosphere of women, most of whom I have never met, but whose words have touched me and who have encouraged and supported me. Thank you. You probably have no idea how much you have helped me. But, please know that you have. I miss Rachel. I miss what I didn't get to know and I miss her words.

    I am so sorry for your loss and so sorry for everyone's loss.

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post.

    Love and peace to you.


    1. Lisa,

      I will be thinking about you tomorrow. Death is tragic. UNTIMELY death is just far more upsetting on so many levels.

      You will never know how much your words mean to me. We have become a tightly knit group of women (and some men, too). Having Rachel's strong voice gone just makes it that much more important for the rest of us to speak a little louder and a little more forcefully. I would not trade the relationships I have made from this social media community for anything in the world. These bonds mean so much.

      Love and peace to you, too...


  7. Ann Marie,
    I understand your feelings about missing out on that chance to skype with Rach. Don't be too hard on yourself, we do the best we can and that has to be enough. It was really hard for me to not be at her memorial service, but I couldn't make it due to many reasons. I watched the live stream, or most of it, and it was tough but I'm so grateful I could "be there" in some sense as an observer. It's so much to absorb, all these losses. And yet, we must do just that and keep moving forward by telling our stories and trying to change things a little bit at a time.

    Thanks for this post. Take care of yourself.

    1. Your words are salve for a wounded soul and I thank you so much, Nancy. "Do the best we can and that has to be enough" ...... I can feel tears springing to my eyes.

      Yes, tell our stories and each of us trying to make small changes, a bit at the time....

      Thank you, Nancy.... you helped lighten my mind..... and you as well..... take care of you. I know this is not an easy month for you. Here if you need me.



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