One Year Later, Gone

A year ago this past Saturday was our “30 Years, 1 Wish” party. And Jake is no longer here.

I’ve been thinking about his absence a lot the past month or so, and I still am unable to really articulate my emotions.

  • Do I feel sad? Yes.
  • Do I feel angry? Yes.
  • Do I wish I had done more? Of course.

Simply put, it’s almost impossible to explain what it feels like to have thrown a party, honoring Jake and his amazing courage and strength battling cancer and a year later, he’s not on this earth anymore. To have seen him stand up in front of almost 200 guests and say that we all were his reason for staying so strong, and now he’s not here to say anything at all. To know that the moment he stood up and accepted the microphone was one of his last chances to say hello and goodbye.

There just are no words to understand why we’re still here and why he had to go.

Today, Timmy and Jake’s family and friends celebrated Jake’s life by holding a golf tournament in Atlanta. The Jake Lyons Memorial “Cancer Sucks” Golf Classic. It would’ve been an annual event but Jake got so sick that they were only able to hold it once. Hopefully, this will truly be a yearly event to come together, remember Jake, and think of him in heaven laughing at everyone’s poor golf skills (and by everyone, I mainly mean Timmy because he’s no bueno).

Unfortunately, I seem to be the one who carries the memories of our party since Timmy’s memory was so fogged by the medications he was on last year. And that just makes me sadder. He remembers the general high of the night, but details really escape him. I remember everyone’s faces, everyone’s smiles and tears, and most of all, I remember the overwhelming feeling of gratitude I felt all night long.

We are still so incredibly, deeply, and intensely moved by the showing of love and financial support that our friends and family gave us and our charities that night. The support you all showed Jake, even if you didn’t know him, will never be forgotten. I know the Lyons family agrees wholeheartedly.

I’ve been busy with life lately in the best ways possible, and I’ve also begun the fun task of trying to expertly plan our upcoming trip to Italy (here’s the back story in case you forgot). With every stop I pin on the map, every restaurant or winery I note, every historical monument we must stop at, I feel a twinge of sadness. Because this is the trip of a lifetime and our friend’s lifetime is already over.

His absence won’t stop us from having the greatest time ever, though, because Jake would KICK OUR ASSES if we attempted to temper our fun even slightly because of his loss. He may be gone, but I still hear his voice in my head urging us to enjoy each other and our lives no matter what.

I credit Jake for a lot of things, maybe overly so for things that had nothing to do with him because he was such a great guy. But I know I credit him for being a part of saving Timmy and my relationship. Even during the worst year of our relationship, during the days, weeks, and months when we couldn’t find a reason to stick it out, we stayed together because we knew that’s what Jake wanted. Sounds crazy, but man, when you have a fatal cancer diagnosis, your opinion really holds some weight. 🙂

Because we made it through last year with a lot of Jake’s help, we came out the other side of that dark tunnel stronger, healthier, and more in love than ever. For that, thank you Jake, for always deflecting and focusing on others instead of yourself. You truly made a difference in our lives.

So a year after “30 Years, 1 Wish” all I hope is that our message is still with you. “We can always take time to give back, no matter what our lives are like, how busy we are, how broke we are, how sad we are — there’s always someone who is doing worse and who needs your help.” And after a year of perspective, take stock of the riches in your life and be thankful. The only thing you can control is how you respond to life’s many ups and downs, so react wisely and with love.

We miss you Jake.

jake's cancer sucks golf classic

♥, VB

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Labor Day NAHS Shenanigans

Oh man, this past Labor Day weekend was the freaking best. You know that feeling you get when you and some of your best friends are about to get the fun on? Not every friend or group, but a particular group of friends that you know are going to make you laugh so hard, you may pee a little. Just a little.

Don’t lie. This is exactly how you feel about having fun with a certain group of friends.

That was 100% Labor Day weekend 2014. Some of my girls from NAHS (or Nof Atanta, as we like to call it…the Atanta came about because our soccer sweats were all misspelled, I kid you not. The Nof is just cause we ghetto) came down for the holiday weekend and we really packed it in. I of course planned the itinerary because I’m a major control freak  I knew what they wanted to do, which was mainly to chill out.

Crazily enough, this is now the 3rd Labor Day weekend I’ve spent with NAHS ladies in a row. Lindsey’s bachelorette party in Folly Beach, then Jessica’s bachelorette party in Charleston, and now this one in St. Pete. We apparently like getting married and drinking on the beach. Shocking. Unfortunately, there were no hijinks with a certain lingerie gift shower that involved a full body fishnet stocking or blindfolded “kiss the stud” game like at a certain person’s bachelorette (and NO, those picture will NEVER see the light of day. EVER), or poop talk for an entire weekend at another certain person’s bachelorette.

God, I love these girls. I’ve known them since I was 15, and they seriously rock my world. After an extended absence in each others’ lives, we can always come back to each other without grudges, without envy, and support each other through the good times and bad. I’ve seen these ladies come into their own, and I’m so proud. Fighting for who they want to become, securing lives that make them happy, but continuing to want progress and improvement in themselves. So admirable.

And they are funny as all hell.

We used to spend evenings at Starbucks on West Paces people watching, and getting drunk together after “borrowing” mini bottles from the Buckhead Ritz Carlton (don’t ask). We danced on bars. We spent many an hour talking about partners, extremely bad life choices, and crying over all the things we did wrong after college. We also spent a lot of time supporting each other through bad relationships, career changes, getting married, and making babies.

These are my ride or die chicks.

This past weekend, we spent a lot of time in the sun, paddleboarding, drinking, and especially laughing. It was one of my most favorite weekends I’ve ever had. Saturday, we spent the day at Indian Rocks Beach, and loved how we had no men folk to entertain because they can’t sit still for more than 30 minutes at a time. That night, we hit up my favs, 400 Beach and The Canopy. We took a million pictures that came out looking like we were club kids again, mainly because I still don’t really know how to work my fancy camera.

Sunday, we paddleboarded for 2 hours in Ft. Desoto (which of course made my back hurt so bad I was practically in tears on the way back), and took tons of pictures. At some point, there is extremely shallow water, and it’s just a delightful spot to sit and relax. It was hot as hell that day, so we parked it for a few, and made fun of how white Jessica is compared to me. Being ethnic is fun. After that, we went to Madeira Beach for a hot second and ate snacks like we hadn’t eaten in DAYS. After 2 hours in the sun and working out, we stuffed our faces with homemade pimento cheese dip and chicken salad, courtesy of our resident chef, Lindsey. It was awesome.

Early evening, we met up with Jessica’s sister Nancy and her man Miguel at our favorite brewery, 3 Daughters. We sat out the rainstorm, and took a bunch of ridiculous pictures because we’re just like that.

That night, we had taco night at home and had the MOST FUN EVER playing Heads Up. It was also the MOST FRUSTRATING EVER because Jessica is the absolute worst. I’m dead serious. The Worst. Take for instance this exchange:

The card says “C3PO”. I have to make Jessica guess what I’m acting out, with words as long as they don’t rhyme. (Disclaimer: I did get confused and thought I was supposed to do R2D2, but it really didn’t matter because the response was so crazy ludicrous…sigh.) 

I start moving my robot arms and say, “BEEP BOOP BOOP BEEP.”

Jessica’s response: “POLISH!”

Her response was Polish. Fucking Polish. TO A ROBOT MAKING THE NOISE BEEP BOOP BOOP BEEP.

At this point, we all fall to the floor in hysterics. No joke, we literally all fell onto the floor, tears streaming down our faces, because of that response. We couldn’t even finish the round before the timer went off, we were laughing so hard.

She is the WORST at that game. Just an FYI. (love you girl)

After that, we played a little Michael Jackson Wii and Just Dance, and talked until 2 AM. Just like high school.

Monday, we fed our inner fat kids and went to Urban Brew and BBQ (which was DELISH), and justlikethat, the weekend was over. I can’t believe it went by so fast. It’s so unfair.

Ladies, I heart your asses. Don’t ever change.

♥, VB

Strong Man is Mine

A few weekends ago, Timmy had a major moment. I’m writing about it because HE STILL HASN’T CONTRIBUTED TO THIS BLOG AT ALL. But I’m not bitter or anything…

Timmy has been doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for a few months now and I’m super proud of him. He’s had a challenging time in Lake Mary by himself, and I’ve been pushing him as much as I can to strike out and meet people, gain a hobby, do something in order to get out of the house more. It’s hard, yes, making friends as an adult, but it beats sitting at home doing nothing. So he signed himself up at a local gym, and he’s been loving it.

What grown men get out of wrestling with other grown men, I’ll never understand, but hey, to each his/her own, right?

Obviously, as a former state champion-caliber wrestler, he’s definitely a little more advanced than novice. He claims that he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but after watching him a few Saturdays ago, I can honestly say he’s a big fat liar. Or he just needs to work on his confidence. Because dude knows some moves.

The Copa Grappling Tournament started at 9 AM in, shudder, of all places, Lakeland. The place we don’t even stop for gas on the way to each other’s cities because we hate it so much. The town that is associated with so many bad relationship memories, we’d rather pretend like it didn’t exist. Yea, that place. So we both drove to meet in the middle for his inaugural tournament debut.

He was freaking out a little in the days prior because he’d only been doing this sport for about 2 months, and not even that consistently since he kept destroying his feet on the gym mats. If you’ve ever seen Timmy’s feet before, you know they’re already a little raunch-worthy, but man, after jiu jitsu, GAH-ROSS. So clearly, he was nervous, but since he’s an athlete at heart, I knew he would be incredible the day of.

If you’ve ever been an athlete, you know the mindset. The zone. The ability to focus in on the goal at hand and get it done. Timmy’s like that. Once he finds something he can lock onto, he’s unreal. The problem has always been finding that thing to lock onto in the first place. I’m hoping he goes far with this sport.

We were in a high school gym on a Saturday from 9 AM until 5 PM. Of course the bleachers destroyed my back, but good lord, that is a freaking long ass time to wait. I wasn’t bored, which was nice, since they had matches going non-stop. I’d never really gotten a chance to go to wrestling meets in high school because their season always coincided with basketball season. I got a little taste of what it must be like for parents whose children do this type of thing. Lots of waiting involved. Lots of it.

Side note: I’ve never seen so many bare feet in one location in my life. I was fighting my gag reflex pretty much the entire day. Feet, everywhere. UGH.

Copa Grappling Tournament

Copa Grappling Tournament

Anyways, so we waited until almost 4:30 pm for Timmy’s level (novice) and weight class to go up. He had two other guys in his level and class. One was an entire foot taller than him. That match he dominated 9-0.

The second match, Timmy won by submitting the guy with a move he had no idea he was doing. I also had no idea what he was doing and I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing for both matches.

He won first place in his first ever grappling tournament. It was pretty damn sexy to watch.

He also COMPLETELY tore up his feet in the first match, so much so that he bled on the mat and had to wrap his feet up. Big gaping wounds. Be glad I’m not sharing any photos because BARF! I later had to apply liquid skin on him, the material from hell that I remember so well from my ballet days. THAT’S HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS MAN.

You can see the videos of his two matches here and here. I have no idea what he’s doing other than trying to win. I’m trying not to pass out.

It was awesome. Timmy, you’re my strong man for life.

♥, VB