Over the weekend of the Ladies of Our Lady retreat at the Mother Cabrini Shrine outside of Denver, CO, I also gave a talk at Regis University, sponsored by the Notre Dame Club of Denver. Each talk is different, each talk is special - and this talk was no different.
As we gathered before mass at Regis, one of my former teammates came to say hello. She lives in the Denver area, but wasn’t able to stay for the dinner/talk. She drove 30 minutes just to say hello. That’s what teammates do. But this wasn’t a teammate with whom I was particularly close in college (she would tell you that as well). It wasn’t that we didn’t get along, it’s just that she was older and we had our separate friends and lanes (because in swimming, you tend to bond closely with your lane-mates, those with whom you train and spend the most time). But we were teammates - and close friends or not, that creates a bond that withstands time. It was great to see her after all these years.
I had other teammates come to my talk as well - and I was reminded of how complex our team was after our bus accident. The swimmers who attended my talk were younger than I (and therefore were not in the accident, but lived in the aftermath of it) and on the men’s team, who were in a similar situation: part of our team, but not part of our tragedy that night.
The men’s team lived through all the emotions of our accident, and yet, they were distant and removed from the physical scars and reminders.
The younger women on the team didn’t know our teammates who had died, but were still our teammates for two or three years and shared with us the emotions of healing.
With all we were dealing with at the time, I am not sure any of us fully appreciated what those closest to us were experiencing: the men, who felt our emotional pain, but were not a memory of that evening, and our younger teammates, who were our teammates in every sense of the word, but still felt an emotional distance that has grown smaller over time.
I have heard from many of these younger swimmers since What Though the Odds was published. For some it was a history that defined the program they were a part of and loved. For many I swam with it was an understanding, the background of who we were as a team when they joined.
What Though the Odds has been many things to many people, and for some, a valuable tool of understanding. How blessed I am to be able to share this, in person with my teammates. And how thankful I am that they took the time to attend….or to just say hello.
I had to go back through my blog entries to see what I have written about San Diego in the past. As soon as I typed the title I thought, “I feel like I am repeating myself.”
Maybe that’s okay. Maybe there are some things worth repeating. Spending time in San Diego is one of them, especially for my family.
I grew up spending summers here; I was lucky to have an uncle with a house here (and every luckier that he still has it). Those summers, where we repeated the same vacation each year, with the same cousins, at the same beach, poured a foundation that lasts to this day. I think we are mixing the cement for my children now too.
My children love Torrey Pines Beach as I do. They love the time we spend out west with cousins (mine and theirs). They love returning to familiar restaurants, Pelly’s putt-putt, Golden Spoon (frozen yogurt) and the same beach house year after year. Our favorite days are when we hit the beach at 10am, pack a cooler for lunch (fluffy-nutters of course), snacks and drinks, and reapply sunscreen six times over the next six hours. (Wait- I’m not sure the sunscreen part is a repeat of my childhood!) The water is not always warm, but the waves are big and fun to jump and boogie board. This year, my boys really got the hang of body-surfing (Thanks, Uncle Stephen!)
I love San Diego. I have spent some of my happiest childhood and adult memories here. There some hard and painful memories too, but the joy sandwiches the darkness and alters the emotions. Now, a visit with Dr. Garfin (like our annual summer dinner last night) is filled with laughter, friendship and celebration…a contrast from my time in the hospital here.
But I also love to go home. And to home, I am ready. These memories may be laying a foundation for my children’s future, but our roots are what keep us grounded.
LOL has become a common “word” or acronym over the past few years.
For the past few weeks, 11 women have received emails with the subject beginning LOL. This past weekend, LOL took on a new meaning, and never will I look at those letters the same again.
LOL…Ladies of Our Lady.
Several months ago I was asked by the Notre Dame Club of Denver to speak at Regis University on Saturday night. Surrounding this talk was a weekend retreat for the Ladies of Our Lady. LOL: Retreat. I was invited for a talk; I traveled to Denver to attend a retreat. I had never been on a retreat.
The retreat leaders were young. Very young. Recent college graduates. What could I learn from them?
HA! A lot. The first lesson being that everyone has something to share, everyone has a story and everyone can teach someone something. By the end of the weekend, I was sorry to leave these two young women and will miss their young nervous laughter and calm strength in trying to keep 9 women on track.
9 women. Myself and 8 others. I know our retreat coordinator was hoping for more attendees, but our group of 11 women (plus Father Don) was the perfect size. The nine of us hailed from five different states (and our two retreat leaders added two more states to the mix). We gathered atop a mountain that overlooked the city of Denver: The Mother Cabrini Shrine. WOW…It was awesome. It was beautiful. And it was transformative.
I could write much more about this retreat (and my talk!) - and I will (without breaking confidence: don’t worry ladies!) But I need a few days to gather my thoughts. Just a few hours after leaving the retreat I can share that it was one of the most moving experiences of my life. The LOL gathered together, prayed together, reflected together, broke bread together, and did a lot of LOL.
Thank you, LOL!
I love August. It is the month of my birthday. It is the month during which we spend time at the beach with family. It is a time to come together to celebrate all that is important in our lives.
When I was growing up, my birthday always fell during a time of the summer when everyone was out of town (probably because it was so hot in Arizona). Because of this, I do not remember ever having a birthday party with my friends, something I always wanted to do. What I did have, however, was a family party with my aunt, uncle, grandparents and cousins - cousins I adored and looked forward to seeing each August at the beach.
This August, I will spend my birthday at this same beach, with these same cousins (they live here now- lucky them…and I get to visit them here - lucky me). And my birthday is just as meaningful to me as an adult, because I have my own children with whom I get to share the day.
But I share this day with my friends now too. Despite being away from our home (too hot in Maryland this summer!), one of our dearest friends celebrates her birthday today as well. Finally, I get to celebrate my birthday with my family and my friends. We’ll celebrate on different coasts, but there are some friendships and family relationships that know no distance. And those are what we should cherish and celebrate…everyday.
Happy Birthday Gab!