Wednesday, May 12, 2010

About Kate

Kate Levin had the office next to mine at C-K. Every day at about the same time I would hear her call her kids. She'd be so loud and happy listening to how their day went. Afterwards on occasion, she would come into my office and we'd talk about our kids, almost never work. C-K was a very political place but Kate stayed away from the drama. She got her work done with a passion and the only other thing she wanted to talk about were kids. You could tell that she was conflicted with what I would imagine many women feel: that is, a need for work and a bigger love for her kids.

Kate was a creative director and so she was sort of my boss. She was also a great writer. She came from New York. You know those really entertaining IBM commercials? Kate did many of them including one of the most famous about Christmas morning. Sometimes she annoyed me because she had this new way of writing headlines that was shorter and with more edge. But she was right. I needed to write shorter and with more edge. 

I became an admirer of hers forever one day when we had layoffs. A friend of mine got the axe. Kate was hard on him in the past so I just assumed that she had a hand in firing him. But she didn't. When she found out, she was really, really crushed and actually tried to stop it after the fact. Kate believed she could get the best out of everyone. Instead of not being fond of this writer, she actually liked him because he worked hard. I realized then that no matter how tough Kate was and how much she stayed away from the drama at work, she really cared about her people. 

And boy was she tough. Advertising is a real man's world. Still is today no matter what you may hear from agency heads. So to get anywhere near Kate's position, she needed thick skin and a steel back because a lot of people would be trying desperately to stab at it. 

Kate died today at just before three pm. She fought cancer for a long, long time. I can't even count how many years, it was that long. And she had it bad. I think I've learned a few things about cancer but I can't even pronounce what she had. I can't even describe it. All I know is it was bad and in a lot of places including her brain for a while. I mean, she came back from having cancer in her brain. How is that for tough?

When I was really in a dark place with my second relapse, I called her. She was going to be the one to understand. And because of where she came, way out of the darkness many times, she was going to be the one to lend me that help up. Like myself, she didn't talk to people much so I talked to her husband Rob and heard her many comments in the background. They both offered to do lunch sometime and repeated that offer the last time I emailed them both. I felt better after talking to them. I wish I feel that way right now. 

Kate leaves behind many memories and two beautiful girls. One plays hockey. Tough like her mother. I hope today, sitting here as McKenna gets ready for bed, Maddie sleeps, my wife watching TV and Conner taking a shower that they know how hard cancer people try to stay alive. I hope someway, somehow, it's Christmas morning to Kate. She deserves nothing less. This disease sucks. 


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Passing it on.

Once again, I'd like to thank everyone for their support the last couple of weeks. My shingles is still around but definitely manageable. I'm up and about doing a lot of mulching.

It's true from what Todd had said. I had the pleasure of seeing our two kids play baseball together. It's actually very strange to come so far. I met Todd in college our freshman years. Who would think that we'd be so old and normal and watching our own kids play ball against each other. Todd's boy got a hit off Conner. Even though he did, it was an enjoyable and fascinating moment. Conner didn't know until after the game. I didn't want to make him too nervous. 

I go in for more tests in a couple of weeks. From what I can feel, the nodes on my left neck are fusing together. They're small individually but together they form a pretty big lump. A "bulky mass" is starting. I'm not sure what the doc will do. You can see them sticking out of my neck now. I try to wear shirts that cover it up. I don't want the kids staring at it. 

My hair keeps falling out. I'm sick of hats but I really have no choice since the hair is coming out unevenly. I refuse to shave it all off. This is the last I'll probably ever see of my hair so I'd like to keep it around for as long as possible. Even if it is covered by a hat.

I'm really enjoying the days here and hating the nights. I wake up late morning, see Maddie, take about an hour to get used to the world and the weirdness of my body and then get on with it. Usually, Sherri and I do something around the house. Lots of mulch is involved. At night, I have to take the pills and I don't feel too good. Toward the end of the night and into the morning, such as now, it's pretty ugly in my head. 

Tonight I made the mistake of feeling the nodes on my left side. If I don't feel around, I'm okay because I pretend to just have a disease. When I feel around the disease becomes more menacing. I rarely feel around but tonight I did. It's actually a little difficult not feeling it. When I take a shower I just don't wash that part. If there's an itch, I pull on my shirt. I don't even shave in that direction. 

I haven't posted here because quite frankly, nothing new has gone on. But I did really enjoy seeing Todd and wanted to write about it. Sometimes you can spot milestones in your life even while they happen. Most of the time, you probably don't appreciate it for what it is. But then I really did. I have three kids and all are great. They have their own personalities and are good people. A couple of weeks ago, I got to see a friend of mine with his own kid and I can see how we all pass it on. Todd is a really ice person who will do so much for a friend. His son recognized me even though he hadn't seen me in eight years or so. Amazing. 

When I was younger, probably as a freshman in college, I thought life was about so much more. I wanted to change so much. But now I'm okay with changing my world and making my world better. No one person changes the world. Nobody changes a lot. But a lot of people change a little. And then they pass it on.