Thoughts from a Heart
It’s Komen week and I was wondering what I was going to write about. There is so much to think about, the good and the bad, and then I walked into Ledesma Sports Medicine last week and it very simply came clear to me. I visit the clinic every once in a while to see my training partner, and I happened to ask about where Joel Bond, a physical therapist intern there at LSM was. His wife Ann who also works there told me that he was out of town because his sister-in-law passed away. Then, of course as nosy as I am I said, “I’m sorry, what happened”? “Breast Cancer” was her response. Yup, I remember the feeling, the numbness, the thought that a family had to go through that. “How old was she?”, I asked. One more pit in the stomach, “She was 39”, and she had a child, and a husband. Her name is Elisa Bond, and don’t know anything else about her but those few facts. I don’t need to know any more, I know the feeling that family is feeling. Elisa Bond and countless other women and some men are, and were, tested every day, and every moment of their lives. In my mind, I try not to look at it as a loss, but as a win. It just makes me feel better, in the reality that the fight continues. Doctors, nurses, and family members fought to keep her alive, so maybe, just maybe they made some small gain or discovery on how we defeat this dreadful disease. So I won’t dedicate to this Toro talk to anyone, thanks to Elisa Bond for giving me another reason to write and to fight. And to all of our friends and loved ones who are fighting and have given for the fight, I Miss You Mom.
I lost my mom in 2004 to Breast Cancer, its 2014. The response to this letter was so overwhelming I wanted to put it out one more time. I’m not going to change any dates on the original letter. I’m hoping the battle is won soon, and there is no more Race for the Cure, and I don’t have to send this out in 2024.
“Everything is going to be OK.” This is what my mom used to tell me all the time, no matter what I did, what I was thinking, or what I was feeling. Right or wrong, good or bad; she never ever got mad at me, she would just hug me, put her hand on my head when I was a little boy, or put her hand on my shoulder as man and say, “everything is going to be ok”. The grace and beauty she showed was one of the most amazing things I experienced in my lifetime. She was inspiring even through her own hardships in life and I hope I at least just got a little of that from her, because I have never met anyone like her.
Olga Espinoza was a beautiful woman with a singing voice that matched her beauty. She was graceful, kind, loving, could cook like no other, and she traveled the world with my dad, a Marine Corps officer. I am not sure I have ever met anyone who didn’t just fall for her kindness and capacity of understanding of cultures, people, and the everyday problems that the world presents to us all. She had to drop out of school in 11th grade to get a job because of a family emergency. As the oldest child she understood her role when the family needed her. It was interesting to hear people talk about her, because if you didn’t know she dropped out of school, you would think she had a PHD. She read all the time, and was for the most part self-educated and loved to learn and understand all she could about life.
Olga Espinoza was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 1994. I remember getting the news and driving from Dallas to Austin, Texas and seeing the look on her face and my father’s face when I got there. We talked for hours about what was going to happen. I remember her hugging me and saying, “everything is going to be ok," in mom fashion of course. She was way more calm then I was. As she fought cancer with all she had, I can remember how calm she was, and how much grace she had throughout. I am sure behind closed doors she had her moments, but she never showed me or our family. During her fight and treatments she was as graceful as any person I had ever seen. I can still see her walking by herself out in the garden that she had on the 5 acres she and my father had in Floresville, Texas. She used to say,” I love to go out there alone and just think”. I joined her a few times on those walks for some incredible talks but I knew she usually liked to be alone at that time.
I went with her a few times to some of her treatments and again I was amazed at how much impact she had on other people. She would comfort all the women around her, young and old. I would sit and watch her talk in Spanish to the Latin women, hold the hands of older women, and she would also console the young women. I remember being at one treatment and my mom was talking to a 27 year old woman being treated. I remember seeing a little boy curled up in this women’s lap, and I just thought to myself, “man I wish I could get into my mom’s lap right then, there is nothing better than when a mom holds you”. And what did I hear her say a lot to these women? “Everything is going to be OK,” a simple statement, but she made it mean something.
On November 24th 2004 Olga Espinoza lost her fight with breast cancer very early in the morning after repeatedly telling me, “everything is going to be ok” and “life goes on”. After saying goodbye to her that morning, I stepped outside and saw some kids playing, someone out for a run, a girl on horseback, and heard the birds singing. My mom was right, AGAIN!
I do recall talking to my mom during her fight and I remember telling her, “I hope somehow I die before you do, because I don’t think I can take the pain of losing you”. She told me of course how ridiculous this was and that is not the way life should go. I’m not sure if she made this up at that moment or read this somewhere but she looked at me and said “Mijo listen to me, the joy of knowing should far outweigh the feeling of longing”. I knew what she meant and I knew that she was right, AGAIN! But I was right also, it has been the most painful thing I have ever experienced and I am sure I will never hurt like that again. I never knew you could miss someone so much; am I a momma’s boy? Yes, but it goes much deeper than that. I didn’t just lose my mom; my sister lost a mom and friend, my dad lost a wife, my aunt and uncles lost a sister, a bunch of people lost a friend and role model, and the world lost one of the most incredible hearts ever. Does it get any easier? Not for me it doesn’t. Does time heal? No, it doesn’t for me. Is she in a better place? Of course she is, but I would prefer to have her here with me. I think of her every day, I may do something that I am proud of and I still after all these years reach for my phone and I am quickly reminded by my heart that she is not here. During my solo runs I often think about her and what I miss most about her, and there are also times I feel the need to talk to her about something that is on my mind that only she could understand because I was her son. (FYI, tears are more salty when you run).
Since being involved with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure both here and in Austin, Texas, I have seen some incredible people and talked to many of them, including survivors, patients, those that are there to remember, honor, help, assist, or just be a part so they can know they helped in some small way. There is no easy way for me to get through this event. There are so many people involved, and all they do to make the race happen floors me sometimes and makes me so proud to play a small part. I know my mom Olga Espinoza would be proud and I wish I could have her there or at least tell her about it.
So this Saturday April 17th, the 2nd Annual Susan G. Komen Savannah Race for the Cure will take place rain or shine. I will be honored as always to help put it together; I will step up on the stage at the starting line that morning and look out upon all of the thousands of people there, look up, point to the sky and say, you're right AGAIN MOM! "EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK.”
Thoughts from a Heart
"Keep Your Chin Up for Strength, and Down For Prayer"
Fleet Feet Sports Savannah