Today’s guest blogger is our treasured Emily’s Entourage (EE) Board Member and Emily’s lifelong best friend, Jessica Rutstein Lazarus, whose post officially launches our #36for36 campaign and birthday celebration for our dear Emily.
For anyone who doesn’t know me, my name is Jess. I am one of Emily’s best friends since middle school, and I also have the honor of sitting on the EE Board of Directors. This year, I will continue my tradition of kicking off our #36for36 birthday drive in honor of Emily’s 36th birthday.
I have a confession to make; in the past six months I have found three gray hairs at the top of my head. Next confession—the moment I spot one, I pull it right out. It is an impulsive reaction to discard it right away and try to deny it even exists. I have come to realize that if I admit these gray hairs exist, then I also have to admit that I am getting older and time is marching on, which is sometimes hard to accept.
As a parent, I often have conversations with friends who also have children about our shared desire to “pause time” so that our children stop growing up too fast. We aren’t ready for them to walk or talk. We aren’t ready for them to not need us anymore. But, this year above all has forced me to take a moment of deep perspective. The opportunity to watch our loved ones grow and mature is a beautiful gift. Each birthday allows us the chance to see them gain wisdom, experience the beautiful highs of life, and reach for their dreams.
And yet, the passage of time remains bittersweet. In November 2019, after months of us desperately trying to make planned get-togethers a reality, Emily landed in the hospital with respiratory failure triggered by the common cold. At the start of the new year, as Emily slowly recovered, I hoped that 2020 would bring more special time together for us but, as you are well aware, 2020 brought quite the opposite.
In the midst of a global pandemic, the year forced us to painfully miss time spent with best friends, holiday gatherings with family, and usual daily routines. One quote I saw shared countless times over the last few months really stands out, “We skip our gatherings this year, to ensure that when we gather next year, no one is missing.” We have given up countless traditions and sacrificed our time together in the present because we are focused on the expectation of happier and easier times together in the future.
But, that very expectation of the future is a privilege not all are given.
There is an added sense of urgency, of panic, when I realize how long it has been since I’ve shared a sushi dinner with Emily, or a hot drink at our local Starbucks. The majority of us assume we have the luxury of time, and we take it for granted. We figure one lost year here or there won’t make a big difference in the long term. Emily and her family, and all the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, spouses and best friends of people living with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), know that time is not something to take for granted. The next year is never promised. That is true for everyone, but it’s particularly true for the CF community and everyone living with a severe fatal illness.
The majority of us assume we have the luxury of time, and we take it for granted. We figure one lost year here or there won’t make a big difference in the long term. Emily and her family, and all the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, spouses and best friends of people living with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), know that time is not something to take for granted. The next year is never promised.
So, each birthday and passing year is a reason to celebrate! Growing older is a reason to feel grateful and privileged and revel in the present moment. Even though I’ll be singing happy birthday over the phone this year, and cannot watch Emily make her birthday wish in person, I know how lucky I am to still have her with me.
Because Emily is up against time.
We are racing to find a life-saving breakthrough for those with CF in the final 10% who are waiting with fading breath. The greatest birthday gift we can give Emily for her 36th birthday is a financial donation that will help EE fund more critical research towards the ultimate goal of creating a future for 100% of the CF community, nobody left behind. Because living with a ticking time bomb like CF within you is impossibly hard, stressful and scary. Emily and everyone like her deserves long, healthy futures and the greatest gift of all: the luxury of time.
Take part in our #36for36 campaign and help me celebrate my best friend Emily’s 36th birthday on January 9, 2021 with a gift that helps secure many more for her and everyone in the CF community!
P.S. The next time I notice gray hair, I pledge to not pull them out…and I urge you to do the same.