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Lymphoma and Pets
A Shared Beat
Photo by Allison Hopkins Photography“If you place two living heart cells from two different people in a Petri dish, they will in time find and maintain a third and common beat.” – Molly Vass
That ability for a heart to beat and swell with love at the feeling of another’s was so prominent recently as I watched my baby brother profess his love to his chosen partner on their wedding day. Translation: I was a blubbery mess as I watched Michael and Rachel exchange the vows they had written for each other in the perennial garden of Topsmead State Forest in Litchfield – a place that holds many treasured memories for my family. And then it happened again as I listened to Rachel’s sister and my sister give toasts and then choked through one of my own.
As tears started streaming down Rachel’s face as she recited her vows and as I saw my father’s eyes well, I too, could no longer contain my emotions and like many in the small crowd, reached for my tissues and tried to hold back the choking sobs. They were tears of sheer happiness for the true love that they found and at the honesty and openness by which they expressed it to each other.
The heart cell’s ability to find the beat of another’s is a scientific fact, but as Mark Nepo writes, that inborn ability to find and enliven a common beat is the miracle of love. It really is a miracle. How fortunate that as humans, we can actually feel what others around us are feeling, most especially those that we love. That depth of connection and empathy is an incredible asset unique to human nature.
We can rejoice fully in other’s triumphs and also feel each other’s pain. Knowing we’re all together on this crazy ride makes it that much more exhilarating. Being there to share the beauty and the challenges with each other helps to lift the burden of the bad and amplify the joy of the good times. Just a year ago, Michael was there caring for, cooking and spending the night with me at Hope Lodge. In 2012, we shared space on the dance floor while I admired his three-piece suit (complete with historic pocket watch).
Photo by Allison Hopkins PhotographyHow fortunate that I’ve found my own soul mate and then been able to rejoice in that all over again watching so many friends find theirs, and now, my handsome brother starting his married life? The same dear family friend who conducted our ceremony married them, before my Dad’s 1930 Model A Ford whisked the newlyweds away as it did Craig and me five years ago. As I said in my toast to Michael, I was a very proud sister that day, and am every day. And, now I have another sister in Rachel and could not be more thrilled. I've got some incredible heart beats surrounding me that I'm honored to sync with.
I look forward to making many more memories together and to more milestones to accomplish and stand witness to. I relish these moments deeply. The morning of Mike’s wedding day I woke up and whispered to the world how grateful I was to not only be there to take part in it, but to feel well, fulfilled and present for it. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to confirm that, ‘Yes, I’m really here’. I was really there dancing with family and friends, chowing down on catered barbecue under white tents on Rachel’s parents beautiful Westbrook property, playing corn hole against my sister and her boyfriend, clanking wine glasses in the newlywed’s honor, recounting the night over breakfast with the new extended family.
The day was real and beautiful, authentic and comfortable – the perfect reflection of my brother and his new wife.
My groom and me.