Still Celebrating.

Three years ago this week, my grandma was taken by breast cancer. Today is her birthday. And I am still celebrating.

Not too many hours ago, I was walking around Newmark, the Civil Engineering building, standing in lines and talking to recruiters, attempting to find a job for after graduation this May. The night before, I was up late finishing homework assignments and essays and researching companies. Before that, there were meetings and classes. Each day there are a plethora of things that keep me busy, but when I’m driving for awhile or walking to class or eating a meal at home, I often think of my grandma.

I remember how she was always positive no matter the situation (something I try to emulate), and she was constantly willing to sit for a card game or drive across town to have lunch with me. When I was younger she would stay overnight with me when my parents and siblings were away. Once, there was a severe thunderstorm going on and she came over earlier than necessary because I was freaking out (my fear of tornadoes has only somewhat decreased since then…). She gave so much of her time to others.

My grandma was an extremely giving and loving person. And so when her birthday rolls around each year, I think of her best qualities and our best times. I can no longer celebrate with her in person, but that doesn’t mean there’s no celebration to be had. I celebrate the fact that she made the world a better place, and I celebrate by trying to show the people around me the same love that she always showed the people she knew. I celebrate the person I was able to become because of her.

As I take part in the Illini 4000, I can celebrate further in each lap I make around the track in training and in each mile I will bike across the States. This journey will celebrate all of the birthdays that will be saved by cancer research. It will celebrate the people we have lost in that we ride for them. It will celebrate the precious lives that all of us have, the struggles and challenges we face, and the strength and perseverance and love that we share. This ride is about change, about hope, about community, and about each individual touched by cancer. That’s something we can all celebrate.

Happy birthday Grandma.


Comments (3)
  • gdeetjen gdeetjen says:

    Alex, this is a beautiful tribute. <3 you!

  • Jan Maruna says:

    Hi, Alex: I am very proud to say that I am a friend of your mother and have a special place in my heart for your beautiful family. What a special heartfelt tribute you delivered in honor of your grandmother! And, what a very special message of encouragement you shared with all of us who have lost a loved one to cancer! Thank you for giving us hope and creative ways to celebrate life. Your gift of lovingly remembering and honoring your grandmother was a gift to all! Jan

  • aknicker aknicker says:

    Thank you very much for the comment. I am so happy that it resonated with you and thanks for following along with my journey!

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