So my dad died of Leukemia. And then my mom was nominated Woman of the Year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. And now we are raising money to give to research dedicated to kicking cancer’s sad angry bottom. When I posted about that campaign last week, my readers donated almost $2000. It was humbling and kind and just so powerful.
We’ve got one last way for you to help and it’s pretty damn delicious. Today from 5 – 8 pm, 20% of the sales at the Chick-Fil-A in American Fork, Utah will be donated to the cure cancer campaign in my Dad’s name. (Check out picture below for the deets.) I will be there rallying the crowd and there will be enough Chick-Fil-A sauce to satiate even the most addicted among us. Bonus? If you share the photo below on social media with the #chickfightscancer, you are entered to win a $100 gift card to Chick-Fil-A. Yeah, that’ll buy you a lot of friend chicken, and that’s not a bad thing.
Want to help but can’t make the dinner? Donate here.
Blood moon over Idaho, 2011. Reuters.
It’s only an hour till the first blood moon in a tetrad of crimson and night. I’ve decided to forsake sleep and let my eyes see something for the first time. Blanket across my legs and a computer on my lap, I feel like I’m a kid again. Waiting for wonder. If my dad walked into the room and told me it was time to go to bed, it would make more sense than the reality of him being dead. Red moons are the stuff of Tolkien and Bradbury. They exist in the world my dad taught me to read out of space and time. It doesn’t seem right that color can spill across the face of the heavens when I can’t talk to the man that taught me to look up.
I guess I still talk to him. He just never talks back.
I listen for his voice everywhere. The seven second voicemails he left every time he called,
“Hey, Megan. This is Dad. Just calling to say I love you. Give me a call back.”
When the moments are quiet I retreat into myself and listen for him in the memories that slip in and out of my heart and head.
I try to hear him in the stories people tell me about him. I love those, the tales I’ve never heard before as well as the ones that have shaped the background of my life.
It’s an odd thing, hearing someone other than myself describe my dad. We all live in such different corners of the same truth. The Dewey Conley they know is different than the one I know. When a person dies, the world is only left with reflections of them cast off of both casual and intimate observers. Everyone’s reality of my dad is different than my own.
So often that concept is talked about as a fixed point. But it is fluid, moving both intact and constantly changing from person to person, time to time and perception to perception. The other day my mom told a story about my dad and I thought, I know he was that to you, but I never met that man. I don’t know your Dewey Conley. It was a sad thought. With all our loving and hoping, we still can’t grasp him wholly out of the dripping glass. The stories take his voice from me almost as quickly as they give it to me. But in the moment between the exchange, I am there is a place where he still exists in time.
And I am thankful.
Today was too long and tomorrow starts too early for me to be up into the morning. But I feel compelled into wakefulness. The blood moon will be red but the cause isn’t anything sinister. Beautifully and amazingly, the reds and coppers come from the reflection of sunrises and sunsets all across the world. My goodness, the color of life across the cold stone that holds down the dark. The promise of tomorrow in the dead of night. The literal wonder of an intricately tooled universe.
For the rest of my life, I will hear my dad’s voice more purely in moments like this than in any recording or remembrance.
Hey, Dad. It’s late and I’m ten years old reading under the covers after you told me to go to bed. And I will, I really will. I just need to look up one more time before I get back to the business of living without you. Did you hear? The moon is going to turn the color of my heart tonight.
I really wish we could talk about it.
This is not an accurate representation of my weekly to do list. (What the heck is an extra-special bath?)
Someone once told me to start each Monday with an act of service. They said it was the perfect way to kick start a week. I am sure that’s correct. However, generally Monday comes and my kick start demands something more chemical based and infused with caffeine. I’d like to be better, but I’m not.
Sometimes I wake up at the beginning of the week and feel time stretch in front of me and press down upon me. A whole week that I must fill with the necessary and the praiseworthy. It is all too much and I generally turn on a movie for the girls and read incendiary articles across the internet until my heart calms down. This morning isn’t too different. The girls are watching Barbie and the Pearl Mermaid, a movie that I am certain must be an overt exercise in nihilism. It is chilling. I am reading up on the latest BLM vs rancher controversy in Nevada. We all may or may not have had ritz crackers and peanut butter for breakfast.
But somewhere between the crackers and the first flip of that mermaid’s tail, I’ve found my perspective shifting. In antiquity, seven was a symbol for wholeness or completeness. The Hebrew root word means “to have enough”, “to be full”. It’s an interesting concept. Maybe the next seven days do not demand from me, maybe what I do to fill them, no matter what it is, is enough. Perhaps just living through seven days at a time with an open and willing heart is how we move to that fulfilled wholeness we all seem to seek.
Here’s to the next seven days. May there be some learning, some service, some hope, some sleep and some HGTV. (And yeah, even one more viewing of that damn Barbie movie.)
And lots and lots of caffeine.
Holy Women Near The Tomb by Maurice Denis
Note: Latter Day Saints believe they have a Heavenly Mother as well as a Heavenly Father. They believe the family unit is eternal and that “As man now is, God once was; as God is now man may be.” Read more about it here. Don’t worry, I totes won’t write about the doctrinal issues of my tiny church again for a long time. Or at least, not in the next week or two.
I’m heartsick and I’m frustrated and I’m fed up and I’m empathetic and I’m ready for everyone to figure out the things that I was lucky enough to be raised to know. My emotions aren’t consistent and they certainly aren’t always fair or understanding. I guess emotion isn’t as rational as well, rationality. But holy hell, I am ready for men and women to understand who they are so that we can move on to the next part of our work together.
I am bruised for girls who think they need male companionship to be valid. I am hurt for women that don’t feel they are the greater part of God’s plan. I ache for mothers that believe their contribution is too little. I am broken for women that are told real womanhood can only be embodied through the birth of child. I am on fire for the angry and in the shadows with the offended. I am sick to death of the victimhood – real and imagined. I am shocked by the women that push down and disheartened by the ones that will not lift up. I can feel us wallowing when we are supposed to be illuminating. It is enough. It is too much. It is time for something different.
My goodness, aren’t we all just so ready for something different?
I had a long talk with a new friend the other day about the state of womanhood. We both came to the same conclusion – Perhaps it is too late for the martyrs that fall down behind us and in front of us, but maybe, just maybe our daughters will be saved that unique ache that so often finds each of us. Perhaps if we raise our daughters with an understanding of their birthright, they won’t feel the pressure to be less.
Why is it never discussed in the bright places the way it was around my kitchen table?
We have a Heavenly Mother.
Do you know what that means? It means God is incomplete without Her. It means that God is He and She. She is more than a lyric in a softly sung song. She is a Creator and a Comforter. She is Alpha and Omega. She is a partner in eternity. She is vital and sanctifying.
She has not been put away. She is not in need of protection. She is not quiet. She is in our scriptures, She is in our revelation, She is in our hearts. She is not jealous. We do not take away from Her when we turn to Heavenly Father, just as He does not become less when She succors Her children. My goodness, They must shake their heads in gentle confusion and cluck softly at our inability to enhance one another as They do so beautifully.
Sisters, we are not raised up through mortality to be consorts to Gods. We are raised up to be Gods. Sometimes when I close my eyes and open my heart, I can feel the power of our future exalted selves emanating back through eternity to this place that smudges and smirks.
Do you know what a God-to-be doesn’t do? She doesn’t let men treat her poorly because that’s just they way it is. She doesn’t accept unacceptable companionship because she is lonely. She doesn’t denigrate her heart or her work. She doesn’t curse her body or her spirit. She doesn’t think she is less than anybody on this good green earth. She doesn’t ask for permission to be the person she is meant to become. She doesn’t hurt her sisters. She doesn’t stop learning and she sure as hell never stops loving. She doesn’t apologize for her strength and she isn’t ashamed of her weaknesses. She doesn’t stop seeking and she doesn’t stop hoping.
There is so much work for us to do and it is high time we let ourselves get our hands dirty doing it.
We must act in love. We must act in confidence. We must open our minds and accept our expanded horizons. We must free ourselves of the shackles of self-importance and self-hatred. It is time to weep with one another. It is time to push ourselves away from the table of worldly preconceptions and cultural sentiment. Our work is grand and infused with the power of God. We do not need to wait for appointment or consecration. The authority is already placed upon our heads. We must look towards a Heavenly Mother that loves and work for a world that needs.
Our birthright demands it.
Photo by my dear friend Heather
When my dad was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2012, my mom never left his side. I think that sometimes I say that to people and they think she must have been around a lot throughout the months of treatment and trepidation. And then, before we move on with the conversation I shake my head and say,
No, no, you don’t understand. She was always there. She slept in a chair in the hospital room for months straight. She had to walk up to the maternity floor every day to shower. She ate hospital food and breathed in illness and fear and hope. She had endless optimism and an understanding faith. She held his hand and his heart and in doing so, taught us how to do the same. She understood that sometimes in life we must stand sentinel over the ones we love as they face the very hard things that make us all very mortal. My dad’s last year on earth was fortified and sanctified by the strength of the woman he loved.
Her example didn’t go unnoticed and in the months during his brief remission, she was nominated by one of the nursing staff as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Woman of the Year. They said she was an example of courage for anyone involved in the care of a loved one with cancer. They said they hoped others would learn from her example. They said that when faced with the seemingly inevitable, the good hope of someone you love is the best thing.
They were right.
My dad died 8 weeks ago. We are all still slowly falling apart and wondering if the new parts of our hearts will land in the right place. It has been a rending, sacred, shocking kind of thing. And my mom, my lovely mom, is still nominated to be LLS Woman of the Year. Her role is to raise awareness and funds for Leukemia research. The campaign ends in a couple of weeks and I’d like us to gather together and help her stand sentinel one more time. All the money raised will go to research to find a cure for the disease that took her husband. If we raise enough, she gets to donate it in my dad’s name and give it to the branch of Leukemia research of her choice. This is important. My dad’s life was extended significantly by a new treatment that is not widely available. If she raises enough money, she’ll be able to help others gain access to the treatment that gave our family some of the most precious months of our lives.
Here’s the thing. Anything helps. Any little thing. Whether you donate this week’s diet coke money or something more sizable, I will be forever grateful that you helped my little mom do a very big thing.
You can donate dolla dolla bills here, Kim Conley Woman of The Year Page.
Want to eat and donate? Head to the Sonic in American Fork, mention this flyer and they will donate 20% of your order to LLS. (Also? There is another delicious fundraiser happening at Chick-Fil-A next week. Come on down!)