A Visit with Jason at Teachers Fountain
My friend Jason and I met in middle school, those formative years when we are all trying to land on who we are going to be as adults. Over the years we’ve stayed in touch and we manage to get together every so often to catch up. The last time we visited was a couple of years ago while I was in Portland for the holidays. Jason, his wife and two kids welcomed us into their home and we caught up the way you catch up with childhood friends. We talked about jobs, and schools, parenthood, and city living. We sorted through our adult lives and reminisced over fond memories as Connor and Lyla danced around our adult conversation without a single care.
Much has changed since that visit. David and I had Kiara, a huge life-changer, but things have shifted even more dramatically for Jason and his family. The summer after that visit, Connor, Jason's oldest, was diagnosed with brain cancer. I followed Connor's treatment through Jason's emails and Facebook updates. I ached for my friend when I heard the news and celebrated when Connor responded well to treatment. But I didn't get by to visit Jason and his family the last few times I was in Portland. I hoped it was because I was busy, but I know it was, in part, because now, as a mother, I could begin to fathom how hard it must be and have been for Jason and Emily to see their little one fight through surgeries, MRIs, and chemotherapy. I remembered our last carefree afternoon together and knew our next get-together would be very different.
This week we were able to make a visit happen. On a clear, summer Portland afternoon Jason and I sat together as our kids splashed around in Portland's Teachers Fountain. We caught up on our increasingly complicated adult lives and at the end of our visit I hugged my old friend, wished him well and as we parted, I hoped he could feel just how touched I have been by the strength and courage he has shown over the past two years. I am so inspired by who Jason has become: a papa, a teacher, a husband, and a friend. Although I've only caught glimpses into his family's journey, I can see through his kids how well they're weathering this storm. Although so much has changed, Conner and Lyla danced in the sunlight without a single care.
Jason will be running the Portland Marathon this fall to help raise funds for the Children's Cancer Association and Connor continues to raise funds for the Cure Search Walk. Here is a link to their site which provides more information about this courageous family and links to their fundraising pages.