The ABC Cancer Diaries

A young, American-Born-Chinese woman living with metastatic breast cancer

Recent tributes to Wynne June 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevenwaseda @ 3:47 am

I’ve been meaning to write several blog posts recently but haven’t had time.  So I figured one shorter, condensed post is better than longer, more detailed ones that never get written.

Here are some very nice and touching recent tributes to Wynne:

1.  Cherry blossom tree planting at my parents’ home in Princeton.

My parents’ synagogue in Princeton reached out to them a little while back and wanted to do something to support them and remember Wynne.  My parents decided to plant a cherry blossom tree in the front yard, right by the driveway, where another tree had recently  been knocked out by a storm.  As my mom said, “I’ll see it and think of Wynne every time I come home and pull into the driveway.”

So on Sunday I drove to Princeton with Helen as well as Wynne’s Oberlin friend (and member of the Council of Moms) Anita for a very special and moving tree planting ceremony attended by about 50 people, mostly our close friends from Princeton but also Wynne’s brother Winslow, his wife Lynda and their 11 month old son Preston.  Rabbi Feldman talked about Wynne, about the Princeton community’s concern for supporting my parents in their loss, and about the symbolic importance of trees in Judaism.  He noted that we mourn a loss in two ways:  1) the loss of the person, and 2) the loss of their memory.  The hope is that the cherry blossom will be one more way to keep Wynne’s memory for many, many years to come.

Of course, any Jewish ceremony or celebration of Wynne wouldn’t be complete without food.  And my folks and their friends put together a wonderful spread of bagels, lox and egg salad along with a few different quinoa salads and some homemade sesame noodles (thanks to Pei. 🙂

After the ceremony and eating and schmoozing (all of which Wynne would have loved), and after most of the guests had left, we remembered Wynne by doing something else she loved:  swimming (in my parents’ pool).  Helen and Preston were the biggest swimming fans followed closely by an elated Nai-Nai and Yieh-Yieh.  Also enjoying the swimming was Aunt Aimee and Uncle Greggie’s child-to-be-named-in-a-week-or-so who splashed around inside Aunt Aimee’s tummy.

Here’s a link to more photos from the day.  There’s also a 13 minute video of the ceremony itself:  http://gallery.me.com/carherb/100456

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2.  Lee & Gila’s Wedding

Our very good friends Lee & Gila got married this past Sunday evening.  I am so happy for them and I know Wynne is too.  It was sad that Wynne couldn’t be there to see it in person (though Helen did a wonderful job as my date).  But Lee & Gila paid a wonderful tribute to Wynne by giving to their guests a small wedding favor bag along with a scroll that read:

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3.  The Colbert Report

Tonight I attended the taping of The Colbert Report together with Akeo (while Danielle babysat for Helen).

Update: Here’s the full episode – http://www.colbertnation.com/full-episodes/tue-june-29-2010-julian-castro

Su May got tickets for me a while back (via Facebook).  The significance of going to the taping, of course, is that Wynne had obtained tickets for a show in April.  But we couldn’t go because she was in the hospital.  Subsequently, Stephen C. himself came to visit Wynne in the hospital (thanks to Sloan-Kettering) and we had a wonderful and very memorable and personal conversation with him.

So tonight was finally a chance to see the taping, and it turned out to be extremely fun.  I kept thinking how much Wynne would have enjoyed it.  At one point the warm-up-the-crowd comedian started picking on me because of my goofy Brasil hat (which I got on our honeymoon) and the angry, one-eyed pig shirt I was wearing.  He was working the crowd and asked me what I do.  I told him that I make bankruptcy cartoons.  He just didn’t know what to do with that.  I was embarrassed and was also laughing so hard.  It was a great time and the show was a really good one as well.

Throughout the entire taping I was holding the little magnetic plastic action figure with Wynne’s smiling photo in it so that she could be there too.  And every time I looked down at it I could see her laughing at all of the jokes.

 

BHSEC Graduation June 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevenwaseda @ 3:29 am

Helen Wu-Horowitz's first BHSEC graduation, and beloved retiring Principal Ray Peterson's last BHSEC graduation

I was very touched last week when I received an email inviting me to not only attend BHSEC’s graduation ceremony but also to say a few words about Wynne to a graduating class that knew her very well.

Tonight was the graduation and it was beautiful and embodied everything about the school that Wynne loved and that I came to appreciate.  A uniquely positive school, faculty and student body.  I was also very glad to have Luciana as well as Godmother Council member Lora join me and share the experience.  Every time I go to the school, even though I never taught there, I always feel very welcomed and very connected with Wynne.

Helen came too, of course (she wouldn’t miss it for the world!)  And I brought her up with me when I spoke.  Here’s more or less what I said:

Ni hao ma.

Thank you for inviting Helen and me to your graduation to say a few words about Wynne. Thanks to Ray and David and Wynne’s other wonderful colleagues. And thanks especially to all of you–her students.

Wynne loved this school and she loved her students. Whether you were aware of it or not, you guys gave her something to look forward to and brightened her days, and in turn my days, in many ways, even when things became more difficult for her.

I always loved it when she would come home and tell me stories from her day—when a class really got into an exercise, when a student earned a scholarship or participated in a summer program, when she received updates from former students. She was particularly upbeat whenever one of her jokes went over well in class.

I always thought it was amusing that she was known as a tough teacher, because to me she was an easygoing, warm, funny and very loving woman.Though  looking back, I realize she was tough on me too. For example, she made me pay for, I think, the first 5 or 6 dates before she even pretended to reach for her wallet. She wanted to make sure I was serious.

And if you took Chinese, she wanted to make sure you were serious too. But with her toughness came great caring. And she cared about her students as much as she cared about anyone in her life, including me. Of course, her dedication and commitment to her teaching was just one more thing that made her beautiful and made me love her so much.

So Helen and I want to say thank you to all of you–students, faculty and parents–for bringing out the best in Wynne and for being such a supportive community.

I miss her greatly, but I know she will continue to live on in all of us through the things she has taught us–about Chinese language and culture as well as about life.

Xie xie. Thank you.

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It felt really good to have a chance to say those things.  And it felt really good to just be there.  It makes me happy to know that Wynne spent her prime working years in such a wonderful and supportive environment doing something she loved.  It also felt strange that I was there, speaking in front of her school, and she wasn’t.  Though I knew how proud she would be of Helen, who was getting squirmy before I spoke, but was a perfect angel once we were up there in front of everyone.

On a tangential note, today Helen had solid foods for the first time:  rice flakes mixed with breast milk.  And she really liked it!  Here are a couple photos:

"Mmmm...breast milk AND organic rice flakes!"

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"Please sir, can I have some more?"

 

First Father’s Day June 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevenwaseda @ 10:32 pm

Today was my first Father’s Day.  I wish so much I could have shared the day with Wynne.  Of course I’m very thankful that I was able to spend it with Helen and very thankful that I’m even a father.  But it’s one more instance in life where I really feel Wynne’s absence.

Here’s Helen getting ready to root for Brazil in its match against Ivory Coast today:

Wynne would also be extremely proud to know that yesterday, at my parents’ home, Helen swam for the first time in her life.  And she liked it!  She even started splashing with her hands.

Helen with her Nai-Nai (Chinese for paternal grandmother)

 

More gratuitous Helen photos June 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevenwaseda @ 3:01 pm

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In case you were wondering who Helen is rooting for in the World Cup

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Helen gets ready to bike home to her piano lesson after a tough frisbee match. 😉

 

NYT: Getting on with life after a partner dies

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevenwaseda @ 3:36 am

Thanks to Greg for forwarding this article from the New York Times.  This is a pretty good description of at least part of what it’s like without Wynne.

Getting on With Life After a Partner Dies

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/15/health/15brod.html?emc=eta1

By JANE E. BRODY
Published: June 14, 2010
 

Cousin Preston and the Milk Run June 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevenwaseda @ 2:55 pm

Last night Helen and I made a much needed milk run to Flushing.  For those who don’t know, Helen has been subsisting on breast milk from her Aunt Lynda (i.e., Winslow’s wife).  As a result, once a month or so we make a “milk run” up to Flushing where we fill up two coolers with frozen packets of breast milk (which I refer to as “breast milk Otter Pops”).

What makes the trips special is that it keeps us connected to Winslow, Lynda and of course cousin Preseton (now almost 1 year old!)  Last night we also went out for good Chinese food as well and had time to catch up and also for Helen and Preston to play together.  See below:

Helen's first solid food.....Cousin Preston!

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Breast milk Otter Pops

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So we had a really nice time last night.  Of course, I also felt Wynne’s absence greatly.  Everything from the arguments we would’ve had in the car about which of the confusing exits to take from 495 to the Van Wyck, to having an extra hand to push Helen or carry the coolers, to deferring to Wynne for the food order and letting her serve me whatever new food was on the dish, to coming home and figuring out how to organize and fit all of the frozen milk packets into the freezer.  These were all part of us and our life together and I miss them very much.

 

Third Street Music School Settlement

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevenwaseda @ 2:41 pm

I just received a nice letter from Third Street Music School Settlement acknowledging the donations that have been made to the school via the Jewish Communal Fund in memory of Wynne.

Thanks to everyone who donated.

I can’t remember if I mentioned this before, but one of our early dates was going to the Third Street Music School Settlement to watch Wynne provide piano accompaniment for her friend William on flute.  I still remember that night very clearly.  It was the first time I met William as well as Lily.  Plus Wynne looked totally hot playing piano in her Wynne way. 🙂