Monday, June 16, 2014

Thank you

In my previous post I teased you with a riddle and a photo.  If you guessed, "henna tattoo on scalp", you were right!  Here is a photo of the finished product from behind:

Scalp henna tattoo, two days after application
Photo by Mike Gatzke Photography
 My understanding is that many people assumed it was applied using a stencil, but I assure you it was not.  The henna artist drew every detail free-hand.  Also, this was her first scalp tattoo, so she was nearly as excited to perform the artistry as I was to receive it.  It took her two hours to paint the henna on my head.  It dried in less than 30 minutes, then I slept with the dried substance on my head.  It was very crusty and did not flake off.  To remove the henna in the morning, Ian and I scraped it off with cardboard before washing away the remnants.  It is recommended to scrape before washing because washing could blur the lines.  Here is a photo of the henna tattoo from the front:

Henna tattoo from front, photobombed by family.
Photo by Mike Gatzke Photography  
What a magical evening.

Thank you so much for coming to my party!  And if you weren't there, thank you for your donations, time, and thoughts!  Look at all of these people, all of whom were having a blast (or so I've heard):

Photo by Mike Gatzke Photography

It was five times bigger than my wedding!  Incredible!  You can view all of the photos, for a limited time, at the Mike Gatzke Photography website.

I need to broadcast our thanks beyond the party itself, so here I am going to post the words that my husband and I spoke at the party.  I knew that I would not be able to give my own speech without becoming a sputtering mess, so I read a poem and then my valiant husband said what I could not.  I chose a poem that allowed me to share my heart, at that moment, with you all.  It is called "And for no reason", written by the 14th century Persian poet Hafiz (translated by Daniel Ladinsky).

For no reason
I start skipping like a child.

For no reason
I turn into a leaf 
That is carried so high 
I kiss the Sun's mouth
And dissolve.

For no reason
A thousand birds
Choose my head for a conference table,
Start passing their
Cups of wine
And their wild songbooks all around.

For every reason in existence
I begin to eternally,
To eternally laugh and love!

When I turn into a leaf
And start dancing,
I run to kiss our beautiful Friend
And I dissolve in the Truth 
That I am.

Then Ian gave the most beautiful speech.  Here is his speech (edited slightly for relevance and posted with his permission):  
I really want to thank the planning committee for organizing this great event and putting everything together.  I hope they are all in here.  I think some of them are laying asphalt for more parking spaces.  They are two family friends with Heather's aunt, uncle, stepmother, and father [and were introduced with flair].  [We also appreciate the efforts of other people behind the scenes, including the food line that was overrun by Aunts.  I'm sure we don't know the half of who or what contributed to this event.]
I’ve known and loved Heather for over half my life.  That strikes some people as magical… or unusual, weird, old-fashioned.   I think it is something else.  Meeting Heather almost eighteen years ago started one of the longest streaks of blind, stupid, wandering dumb luck that humanity has ever seen. And I wouldn’t count on it ending anytime soon.

When I hear people talk about how lucky they are, it almost always involves a close call or a second chance.   “My canoe tipped over in the middle of a glacial lake and I had forgotten my life jacket, but right before the hypothermia set in I was able to use my dead dog as a flotation device.” or “I got bit by a Raccoon and I didn’t even get tetanus!”
 That might sound kind of lucky; not really though.  The truly lucky person simply paddles across that lake without issue and knows better than to climb into a Taco John’s Dumpster, no matter how good it smells. When it comes to the life that Heather and I have together, I’m lucky because I got it right the first time.  
Why I’m the Luckiest
With my deepest sincerity, there are countless reasons why we do feel so lucky and so incredibly loved. We are lucky that…
We have four hundred friends that have come out here tonight to show their love and support.
We are lucky for the understanding you lend every day. We are lucky that you can cook, and bring us nutritious meals a couple nights a week.   We are lucky for the hard-earned leave that you have donated so that Heather can work on feeling better.  We are lucky that you give so generously to online fund drives, that you organize online fund drives; that you’ve found it in yourselves to send my family on a dream vacation. We are lucky that we have such wonderful people to watch over, care for, love, and teach our amazing children every day (Well, that’s lucky you). We are lucky for grandmothers and grandfathers, moms and dads, aunts and uncles, family and friends, to step up and be the people, the parents, the friends that we sometimes cannot be. We are lucky to have the OC to keep the world at bay.  We are so incredibly lucky to have life-saving doctors and nurses doing everything they can so my children will know their own mother. We are lucky for those close-calls and second chances that make our love stronger.  We are so very lucky for the last four years; the best years we’ve ever had.  And we will be lucky…for the next four, and the four after that, and so on.
When Heather and I think about our luck, when we think about all the love and support you have given us, we are often overwhelmed to tears.  No words can truly convey my gratitude. But, if you could feel what I feel, right now; I think you would understand. 
Thank you.    

Thank you.  Again, thank you.  The cancer cannot compete with this.  With all of this.  Thank you.

And in case you were wondering, I am totally getting my fight back this week.  I made Father's day brunch yesterday, worked a few hours today, and went to yoga class tonight.  I feel physically victorious, as if I have performed a dozen chin-ups in 30 seconds.  I'm not even sure that that is possible...I've never done an actual chin-up.  But when I close my eyes I do chin-up after chin-up until I have kissed the sky so many times it pushes me off the bar and onto my pillow.  I'm getting my fight back.  


  1. <3 There are no words, for you and Ian have taken all the important and relevant ones. Always.

  2. I'm so glad to know you so I feel I can comment without being too strange. I love your caption "photobombed by family". Hilarious. I can't imagine having such roots around me as were in your Moose Room. Such wealth of generations and love. I was and am privileged to be a part of it.

    1. I'm glad to at last have met you, Joanne!

  3. Wish we could have been there for this awesome event. Know that we're praying for you guys here in Michigan. You guys are awesome together!

  4. You go girl! You looked absolutely stunning at the party, and your husband delivered the most beautiful speech I've ever heard.

    And like Joanne, I cracked up at the "photobombed by family" caption!

  5. not simply a tattoo but a crown! it really did kick ass.

  6. oh, and who else can make chin-ups so poetic? it is so fun to read your words.

  7. Wow. What a beautiful speech. What a beautiful poem. What a beautiful world it is with both of you in it. <3

  8. Heather, I love the pictures, love the poem, love your amazing and generous families and friends, love-love-love Ian's speech! I wish we could have been there. Thank you for sharing some of the highlights of the evening. xoxo