This is a long overdue post. Back in January, Kevin and I left Finn at his grandparents' house for his first ever sleepover so we could see my favorite band, Eddie From Ohio. This year's concert had extra special meaning for me.
The band is an alternative folky band. Their shows are energetic, engaging, and fun. They have amazing voices. I've been a fan since I first heard them in 2000, and I have lost count of the number of times I've seen them play. The past few years, Kevin and I have gone to see them during their annual show at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA. It's a three-night performance held either on Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend or Presidents' Day weekend. This year, it was MLK weekend, and we got tickets for night.
When I was pregnant with Finn, I sang one of their songs, Hey Little Man, to him frequently. Since he was born, we've sung it to him every single day. We were amazed when he was first born that simply starting to sing that song would calm him almost instantly. Most nights, as we put Finn to bed, he begins to settle and is still by the time we get to the end of the song.
I was both excited and nervous this time. I have met the band members several times, as they usually sign autographs and CDs after the show. This time, however, I had decided I would talk to Julie Murphy Wells, who has been an inspiration for years, but much more profoundly in the past year.
Julie is a breast cancer survivor, too. She was diagnosed in 2005. I remember reading the email the band sent out explaining why they'd be reducing the number of shows they were playing. She set up an email account for those who wanted to send her well-wishes. It was her sense of humor that stayed with me, and why she was one of the people I looked to when figuring out how to navigate this world I'd been unwillingly dropped into. Her email address was myleftboob at hotmail dot com. Come on. How awesome is that? I didn't follow her story too closely as it was happening; I was 25 and never considered I'd be diagnosed with cancer . I remember seeing her play shows in the midst of treatment. I remember being amazed that she was able to do it.
I think it's pretty easy to see that Kevin and I both have relied on humor to get us through this journey. I mean, the blog is called Janet Versus the Titmonster. It's a big part of both of our personalities to deal with challenges by reframing and laughing, but I definitely had a strong example of how to do this when death is on the line through Julie Murphy Wells.
I'd tried to write an email to her a couple of times, and I always felt silly, like I was seriously fangirling. I mean, I was; besides her voice being completely amazing, she really has been someone whose story I keep looking to as I figure out how to navigate being a mom with cancer.
So after the show (maybe my favorite one ever!), Kevin and I waited in line to talk to the band. Julie was at the near end of the table. My voice betraying my nerves, I told her I wanted to thank her. I briefly shared my story and told her how inspiring she has been for me. I fangirled about the music, how much I've always loved it, but mostly how seeing and remembering so clearly how she accepted her diagnosis and how she didn't shy away from it or try to hide it but instead faced it with humor and grace gave me the courage to do the same.
Y'all, she's as nice and genuine as she appears. We hugged, we took a couple of pictures, and she asked me to share them with her. (Oops. I am going to do that before I post this. Can I blame chemo brain for this, too?) (Update: Did this. She replied. She's awesome.)
Anyway, here are some pictures.