They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This has never been so true for me as it was during a breakfast I had recently. It wasn't so much the nutritional benefit that made it so important, but it was the company and the conversation. I sat in a booth with a new friend with a warm smile and kind heart, as well as an "I can't live without you" kind of person in my life with great hair that I just absolutely adore and love.
We sat there with our eggs and fruit, coffee and orange juice, telling stories and jokes that involved blondes and koala bears. Perhaps there was some bad humor, but it sure was great for a good laugh or two. You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal and I learned more about them, thus enriching the bonds that we all have together. Even after the food was gone, we still lingered in our booth as we talked a little bit about life and my upcoming bone marrow transplant. It means a lot to know that I have support and people in my life who love and care about me and I was sitting with those kinds of people and feeling pretty loved.
At one point during our breakfast, a saying was shared that my new friend saw in a Seoul, South Korean restaurant. The saying read, "The day is long, but life is short." Isn't that the truth? I really stopped for a moment to think about what I had just heard. What does that mean? I believe that for me, the days I have here are long enough for me to work hard, make a difference in this world and spend as much of my time focusing my efforts on the things that truly count in life. But, like the saying says, "life is short." Pretty soon all of those long days expire. We are never guaranteed tomorrow, so live today to the fullest; embrace joy, do what makes you happy, and don't wait for "someday" because "someday" may never come and today is all we have.
I am glad to have these days, before I head to my penthouse suite at Karmanos, to be around the most important people in my life. It gives me great joy to share thoughts and feelings that translate into little life lessons and inspirational quotes that I will take with me to Karmanos. I am glad that the most important meal of that day ended up really being...the most important meal of the day. Food for the soul is what we really ended up ordering that morning and I am blessed to have shared it with the most cherished people in my life.
Those close to me know about my passion for watches. I would work just to buy watches, if I could, and even consider passing on my transplant to help support my watch addiction; well, you get the idea. R.J. King, who has quickly become my partner in crime around the D, invited me to attend the ribbon cutting of the Shinola store in Detroit. I was so excited to be a part of such a historic event in Detroit, while fueling the flames to my heated love affair with watches. It was a great evening, running into friends of mine through business, as well as meeting new friends that night. As if the night could not get any better, he gave me my very own Shinola watch. I was floored. I now own a piece of Detroit history. Built in Detroit...that's how it should be.
I think that there is an underlining meaning when it comes to my love for watches. Time. Time is a tricky thing. I have felt as though time was not on my side when I was first diagnosed, hearing that I might only have a short amount of time to live, unless I found a bone marrow match. Then time, as it always does, kept moving and it seemed like it was moving so fast. To everyone’s surprise, I blew through my "D" date and, what do you know, time was suddenly on my side! It was my friend, rather than my enemy, and I was making the most of the time I had here; I was alive and living each day with appreciation that I never had before cancer.
I still feel as though time is on my side, as I get ready for the fight of my life; truly, fighting for my life. I fight for more time; time to spend with my son, my family and to see what else God has in store for me. The hands on my Shinola watch will continue to tick, to move and carry me forward. It is now my time to SHINOLA.
Every year The Parade Company puts on a spectacular fireworks show, along the Detroit Riverfront. I have never ventured downtown to see it in person, however, I always thought that it would be something I would eventually want to attend. It is by far the biggest firework display in Metro Detroit and I have been to my share of fireworks in past years.
R.J. King, editor of DBusiness magazine, has become more than just someone I met through business. He has become a friend of mine, someone I find truly interesting and genuinely kind at heart. He shares a passion for the city of Detroit and the business owners and leaders who want more for our city than the stigma that sometimes portrays more shadows than light. He also knows that I have been battling cancer and that I will be undergoing a bone marrow transplant soon. In hearing that I have always wanted to see the Detroit fireworks, he took it upon himself to tell an employee and friend, Nick (who is a warrior and survivor of a bone marrow transplant himself), to connect with a wonderful lady at the Parade Company, Valerie. She invited me to the sold out V.I.P. Rooftop Party downtown without hesitation. She is a gem.
So there I was, best seat in the "house," to watch the 55th Ford Fireworks. I remember watching it on TV, year after year, but let me tell you, NOTHING compares to seeing this grand showcase of lights in person. As I watched explosion after explosion set off to a perfectly selected soundtrack, I kept telling myself, "Remember this, Tara!" Moments like that are what makes my heart happy. I am glad it was dark and the night had set in, because I am certain that I had a cheesy, perma-grin on my face during the entire 20 minutes of the show.
I love living life, not just existing in it. I love going to events, meeting new people, and filing away memories to treasure for the long haul. It is truly times like this that make life worth living, worth fighting for. Again, I have to say, I am so blessed to know so many fantastic people who make things like attending a wonderful V.I.P. event possible, before I go to Karmanos Cancer Center. Thank you R.J., Valerie, Nick, and everyone who made this experience possible for me. You are now a part of future smiles at Karmanos, as I will surely look back and remember the 55th Ford Fireworks with some of the most amazing people in my life.
In life, you have groups of friends. I have work friends, college friends, friends from high school, from church...and then my boating friends. These groups of people are a fairly new addition to my life, yet I feel like I've known them for years. Mike Davis, the biggest victim of the "Asian flu," has supported me as if he has known me his entire life. I am quite certain that he is one of the most sincere, giving, supportive, caring and honest people I have ever met in my life, EVER. As with so many wonderful people I know, he too wanted to do something to help me during this challenging time in my life. So he took the reigns in putting together "Bumpers for Bone Marrow" at one of his best friend's bar, Paul Shamo, whom I've gotten to know and has a heart of gold.
So it was with family and friends, and my new boating friends, we celebrated life and had quite the send-off party before I depart for Karmanos. Earlier in the party I was blessed with the support of my sister, Dawn, who has gone to each of my events and has been there for me through thick and thin. I love her and, although she is crazy, so am I, so we are perfect for one another. Some of my clients showed up, business networking friends, family and even my dear friend Screamin' Scott, from WRIF radio, who I am so blessed to have met when I worked at the station.
Then the crowd shifted as the land attendees left and the boats cruised in from a day on the lake. I can't tell you what a stellar group of people all of them are. We all just met each other, and some hadn't even met me at all, but because of Mike, they all love him and support what's important to him so they all came to rock out! That's how this group of people works; they stick together, support each other, and celebrate life every day. There is much we ALL can learn from them.
I met a guy years back, when I worked at a radio station. He was just someone I met regarding business, but ended being one of my most trusted and closest people in my life, Nico. Upon hearing that I found a bone marrow match and heading to my stay-cation at Karmanos Cancer Center, he took it upon himself to throw me one of the nicest parties I have ever had; the Fishbones for Bone Marrow Drive and Fundraiser at his restaurant in St. Clair Shores, MI. He planned the entire party from the food (sushi, fish, shrimp, and even a little alligator) and live music, to the professionally made posters (with the Fishbones custom design and branding) he had made. Nico even bought ads in a print publication, which, as a TV ad sales account executive I was slightly torn, but that's just in my sales nature! I was blown away by his generosity, as was EVERYONE who attended.
Be The Match attended the event since I know that even though I found a match, there are THOUSANDS of other patients who are still looking for one. They came and helped to spread the word and to educate the guests as to how EASY it is to save a life. A simple swab of the cheek and you're registered! One of my dearest friends from college, Jeff Haase, went up to make an announcement that Be The Match was there and to go and check out their info they had set up at a table. I've known Jeff since 1997 when we went to Oakland University and a little bit about Jeff is that he owns more Polo attire than Ralph Lauren, himself. I adore him and realized that, although we haven't had a whole lot of heart to heart talks, he adores me too. I knew this when he couldn't even make the announcement without stopping a few times to let a couple tears fall. He's the best.
It was then my turn; impromptu speech. I thanked Nico, Jeff and everyone, for coming out to support me as I entered the next chapter in my life, my transplant. Standing there with everyone looking at me, I felt an overwhelming feeling of love. I was doing pretty good, thanking people and even cracking a joke about looking sexy with no hair after chemo. Then, in the midst of my ramblings, I saw someone; I saw my dad. He was sitting at his table wearing a white shirt and leaning slightly to get a good view of me from the back of the room. At that very moment, all I could think about was how much I love my dad, my hero. So I just said it out loud, into the mic, in the middle of my thank you, "I love you, Dad" and the tears just fell. I couldn't stop crying. I love my family, my dad, my mom, my sister, and my son. I took that moment to let my son know that HE is my life, my heart and my inspiration to live and to beat this cancer. I needed him to know that, right then and there, and to hear it...out loud.
People have since told me that there wasn't a dry eye in the room and that everyone took a little something from my moment with the mic. I just know that as long as my family and friends know how truly blessed I am to have their support and love, I will never be alone through whatever is ahead of me.