There are many kinds of anniversaries, and all are celebrated differently. I tend to believe that anniversaries are personal and individual. While I of course celebrate my wedding anniversary with my husband, most others I tend to keep to myself. I celebrate, remember or honor the milestone in my life without the expectation that others should join in the recognition.
Is this selfish? I don’t think so. I tend to think of it as being respectful of other’s feelings (or lack of feelings) about the event. Just as I choose to honor an anniversary in a particular way, I like to think I allow others to do the same.
For example, yesterday, June 9th, was the anniversary of the surgery where Dr. Garfin straightened my spine. A rather amazing day in my life, when you think about it. It was the day when Dr. Garfin gave me the gift of a pain-free and active life. Dang right I’ll celebrate that!
But I celebrated it by myself, in my own way: thanking Dr. Garfin, saying prayers of thanksgiving, playing with my children and smiling to myself because I can run with them. While my health and happiness affects others in my family, there is no need to make them take part in remembering a day that is important in my life (if you are going to do that, then remember my birthday! LOL) I am happy for the silent remembrance in my heart.
Yesterday my husband took his last exam to finish his MBA. THAT is something to celebrate! My boys and I decorated the house, had a special dinner, and honored the milestone as a family. Why would I take a second away from his celebration to focus on myself?
Anniversaries are moments we honor, remember and celebrate, depending on the occasion. Just remember, they are different for everyone.
Two weeks ago, I was back on Notre Dame’s campus for commencement weekend. This year, I was a little more relaxed! I still had to speak, but to a much smaller group - for a much shorter time. However, the privilege to share in a small way this special weekend with our student-athletes was just as meaningful.
The Monogram Club hosted our 2nd Annual Fourth Quarter Farewell in the press box at Notre Dame Stadium. This Saturday morning gathering allowed us one last chance to congratulate our graduating student-athletes and their families on their dedicated careers here at Notre Dame. It also gave the athletes one last time with their teammates and coaches.
The speaking program was brief, as the shared friendships in the room were the heart of the event.
Today was Commissioning Day (”graduation” to us non-military folk) at the United States Naval Academy. For the past nine years we have had the privilege of being a Sponsor Family for Midshipmen at the Naval Academy. We love it, for so many reasons, and certainly today. Although, it’s bittersweet.
Commissioning Week is a time of celebration for the Midshipmen at their families. Many families spend the entire week in Annapolis: renting homes or staying in hotels to attend the parties and celebrations to honor the graduates for an entire week. I can only imagine the pride the parents feel, as I know how proud I am as their “sponsor mom.”
We sign up to “sponsor” two “plebes” (freshman) each year; which means at any given time we are sponsors to eight Midshipmen. Some come to our house often, some do not; but we try to provide a “home away from home” for those training to serve our country. It is not an easy path they have chosen, but it is an honorable one, and one worthy of our respect. Because of this, our children address each Midshipman by “Mr.” or “Ms.”
This year, Mr. Jonathan was one of our Midshipman who was commissioned. He has been a part of our family in a special way for the past four years. While we loved having him visit our house on Saturdays, he also taught CRE (Catholic Religious Education classes - also called CCD) on Sundays at the Naval Academy, and to our son. He attended both our boys’ 1st Communions. So while we shared our home, we also shared our faith.
Mr. Jonathon was Commissioned today as a Naval Ensign. He had friends and family members travel from all over the country to celebrate with him. Many of these family members have not seen him much over the past four years. This is where we are so privileged: we have the honor of watching these young men and women enter as 18-year-old “kids” and graduate as 22-year-old officers. The transformation is uplifting and leaves me confident in the leadership of our military.
So today, as members of the USNA class of 2013 were Commissioned as officers, I reflected on the person Mr. Jonathan has become, as well as thought about the other Midshipmen who have left our home. I miss them all. I am a teary mess during Commissioning. And I try to keep my distance. This is a time for family; this is a time for me to take a back seat. These young men have spent four years at our house, but away from their families. I am happy during this most special week to take a step back and respect the sacrifices these families have made. I am content just knowing we have - perhaps - made their four years a bit easier, or comfortable, or at least a bit more entertaining.
Congratulations to the USNA Class of 2013, and to all the graduates of the military academies. Your families are so proud of you. And so are your sponsor families.
Last week I was the Commencement Speaker at Seton Hill University, a Catholic liberal arts university in Greensburg, PA, just outside of Pittsburgh. It has taken me a week to process my visit, reflect on my time at Seton Hill, and be able to write about my remarkable trip.
First of all, to be asked to speak at any Commencement is a great honor. Graduation is a time to celebrate the culmination of four years of hard work, learning, friendships and often times a family’s sacrifice and love. So to be asked to address the graduates and their families on this very special day is a privilege. And it certainly was for me.
However, my visit to Seton Hill was not just for Commencement; nor was Commencement the focus of my trip. I was there to play a role - however small or great - in the healing of a campus and a team and a community that was still mourning the loss of their women’s lacrosse coach and her unborn child. I was there to spend time with the girls, many of whom are still injured physically.
I spent almost two hours with the women’s lacrosse team the day before Commencement. I didn’t know what I was going to say; I didn’t plan my remarks as I had for the following day. But I drew upon a theme from my Notre Dame Commencement address last year: I understand. As there are very few of us who do.
It was an emotional meeting for me, and an emotional day as I continued to meet with other University officials who are all dealing with their own emotions, as they strive to help the students with theirs.
I left with an uplifted heart as I was inspired by this community of faith, this new family of which I am now a part.
And I left with a theme from this year’s Commencement address that I carry with me: Hazard, Yet Forward. This is the University’s motto, as well as the motto of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s family. Hazard, Yet Forward. The hazards in life we can’t control; the forwards, we can.
Seton Hill is a wonderful and strong community of faith, and there is no better family to be around during a time of hardship than a community of faith.
God Bless and Go Forward!
I have so many wonderful mothers in my life, many of whom make me a better mom!
Of course, those of us with young children know that each day we get a hug from our children, it’s Mother’s Day. And for all mothers, if you are able to call and talk to your children, (or if you are able to call and talk to your mom) you are blessed.
And even when we can’t be with our moms, they are with us. Like, right now I am hearing in my head my mom’s voice: “You need to get to sleep. You’ve had a long weekend and you need to take care of yourself for those two boys who need you.”
My mom would be the first person to tell you that I don’t always listen to her…but I am going to tonight. I will share more of my weekend later this week, as it was a very moving and meaningful time for me. But right now, MOM’s the word!
Good night and Happiest of Days to all Mothers!
Like most of you, it is still hard for me to understand the tragedy that happened in Boston just over a week ago.
As I was driving to pick up my son at school, my husband sent me a text: two explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Just as I did when I heard that a plane first hit the World Trade Center, my thought was, “What a horrible accident.” Never did thoughts of pure evil come to mind. Intentionally harming others is beyond my ability to comprehend.
For the next few days, I had a hard time watching the images on TV, unlike 9/11 when I couldn’t turn off the TV. Perhaps it is because I am a parent now; perhaps it is because I have a 9-year-old boy; perhaps it is because I just don’t know what to say to my children about it. But they know. They talk about it at school and they hear it on the radio. I just don’t know how to explain to them the horror of evil. I can explain accidents. But I can’t explain evil.
I told one of my close friends that I hadn’t said much to my boys about Boston; she hadn’t either. What is there to say? Just as I understand what the lacrosse players at Seton Hill are experiencing and living with right now, I have no idea what it was - and is - like for the runners in Boston. The only thing in common is their need of our prayers. Their need of our support and understanding. Do you know someone who ran in the Boston Marathon? Send them a note, a hand-written note, and tell them you are glad they are okay. It doesn’t have to be long, it just has to be sincere. If they finished or didn’t finish, were hurt or no where near the finish line, the time and care you put into your note will make a difference. You have the power, today, to make a difference.
The runners and the city of Boston will continue to inspire us with their strength. Wouldn’t it be great if the 2014 Boston Marathon consisted of two events: the ‘real’ marathon, as it has always been, and a honorary marathon for those of us who would travel to Boston, to run, walk or hobble for 26.2 miles just because we can. Now that would be quite an event to share with my children!
Yesterday it was announced that I will give the Commencement Address at Seton Hill University on May 11, 2013. If you follow my blog, or collegiate athletics, you have read about the tragic bus accident involving their women’s lacrosse team last month.
This accident hit very close to home; and as I often do, I felt compelled to reach out to the University. I offered my prayers, my support and my help in any way. There are very few of us who have experienced what the team is experiencing right now, and I know I have a gift of understanding that only comes from this shared experience. Once again, these may not be the gifts we want, but it is the gift I have and it is our role to share our gifts.
What I was reminded of in my conversations with Seton Hill, is how widely affecting these events are; this was not just the lacrosse team’s accident, this was the University’s accident as well. It has touched and changed the lives of many beyond the players, their coaches and their families.
Commencement is a time of celebration; it is a beginning. I want the day and weekend to be just that for the Seton Hill graduates. Yet, I am aware that my presence there stems from my understanding of their tragedy. This will be my challenge: to celebrate a beginning, while carrying the messages from their recent past.
Seton Hill University is a campus in mourning. For many, they may still be dealing with the shock as well. Please pray for the entire community. And for me, as I seek to do my small part in their healing.
I just returned from a vacation with my family - both my nuclear family (husband and kids) and my extended family (parents and siblings). The laundry is almost done. The pictures have been uploaded to Shutterfly. (”You still use Shutterfly?” commented my oldest nephew with perplexed disappointment as if to say, “Aunt Haley, I thought you were cool!”) And my children have caught up on their missed work, as a result of multiple spring break schedules and losing out to older cousins. So basically, we’re home.
This is all as it should be, all normal, with nothing to cause me to pause…except for that moment this morning, around 11am, when I wanted to tell my husband something. Just something. Nothing important. Just a comment on life; a comment clearly not memorable enough for me to recall what it was a few hours later. And he wasn’t here.
This too is normal for us. My husband works in New York City (we live in Maryland). He travels at least half the week and often times is only in town when I am scheduled to be out of town, so he can play full-time parent to our boys. I miss him, but I am used to it.
However, after 8 days of being with him 24/7, I wasn’t used to it. I wanted to share with him the small details of my day. It’s amazing how quickly we adjust to being together after being apart for so long; and yet how hard it is to part after being together for such a short time. I would say that’s a good thing!
Our marriage works for us. It would not work for everyone (probably wouldn’t work for most people). I have learned not to judge the way others live their lives; because not many could live the way we do. I often joke that we’ve been married for 12 years, but have only been together five.
Thankfully, whether we are away with extended family, or just together at home at the same time, it’s vacation. It’s family time. It’s needed. And it’s missed when it’s over.
It is also a great lesson for me to remember to appreciate the moment. To cherish what I have, right then when I have it. Don’t discover your blessings in hindsight. Find them in the present. We are blessed today, whether or not we are on vacation.
Last weekend I received several emails, texts, notes of….not sure what. Notes of friendship. Notes of checking in. Notes of caring. And yet the tragedy that engulfed the Seton Hill University Lacrosse team - and campus - had nothing to do with me. And yet I felt it as though it did. And clearly others knew it would as well.
The bus accident that took the lives of the Women’s Lacrosse coach, her unborn child and the bus driver is a horrible tragedy. There really are no words to explain what or why or how horrible. And yet, I feel it, and I know my teammates, coaches and our families do too. We can’t explain what we feel, but we feel it. We felt it 21 years ago, and we feel it again now.
I have thought about the team, the athletics department and the entire Seton Hill family all week. I don’t even know what my thoughts have been - just like I really don’t even know what to write now. I just feel a sadness, a heavy heart, a knowing that these young athletes are suffering in ways they don’t even yet know.
How do we help them? There are ways - by reaching out, by not forgetting, by letting them heal in their own way on their own time. And by praying for them now and in the months to come. This will not go away quickly for them. It will not end with the end of lacrosse season; it will not end when they go home for summer break; it will not end when their season begins next year. For some, it will never go away. That is part of the tragedy.
We can also help them by knowing that each time they hear of a bus accident, or an accident involving an athletic team, or maybe even an accident that involves the loss of life, that they too will feel it in a way that only those who survived can understand.
God Bless Seton Hill Lacrosse.
Last weekend I traveled to Detroit for the third time in the past 12 months. For one reason or another, my talks have taken me to the Motor City and each time I have experienced a new and inspiring group. This last trip, it was a group of Notre Dame alumnae…and ND moms…and ND wives. It was a group of Notre Dame Women - however you are affiliated with the University, if you want to participate, we’ll take you!
Notre Dame Women Connect (NDWC) was formed within the Alumni Association a few years ago to meet the (non-male) needs of our growing alumnae population. And oh how we have grown! At our Detroit event, we doubled the attendance we anticipated. Over 100 women came out to celebrate 40 years of coeducation at Notre Dame.
Interestingly enough, although I do not think it was intentional, this celebration of co-education occurred on March 9, one day after “International Women’s Day.” I love this. I have never seen myself as a feminist, but I think this is because I have never felt limited in what I was able to do. When I wanted to play sports, I could play sports; when I wanted to take advanced classes at school, those were offered to me as well. When I wanted to go to Notre Dame, it was a co-educational school.
It has been 40 years since Notre Dame first opened its doors to women undergraduates, and I am grateful. Those courageous women paved the way for me to live the life I was meant to live, to grow spiritually in ways I couldn’t imagine. They also paved the way for me to be a feminist - in the true definition of the word (look it up) - and I didn’t even know it.
We are not finished celebrating coeducation at Notre Dame. Detroit was just the beginning of a dozen regional events to commemorate this milestone. Since not all women can return to campus to celebrate, Notre Dame is bringing the celebration to the women. Stay tuned! There is a lot to celebrate!