Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Batman and BBQ

Friday, July 18th, 2008

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Today was the day we had decided to celebrate Alec’s 18th B day and Bailey’s 11th. We went to see the dark knight movie and ate barbecue till we were stuffed at famous dave’s. It was a fun time for all the kids and our extended family of adults as well. Things like this are still hard for me, I miss my wife and sometimes being around the whole crew that has been there through the last few months of Andreas life makes me a little uncomfortable. I feel like I’m still stuck in cancerland. My wife really made it all tolerable. Starting over is really hard. I think I’ll feel a lot better when I go back to work a little more in a few weeks. I did get to watch clay eat his first rib and that made my night. He intently gnawed on it till there was no meat and his face was covered with sauce.I really need to thank everyone who has helped out over the last year in any way. Those of you that helped out financially really allowed me to be there for Andrea over the last couple months and now with the kids full time for another couple weeks. I’m not sure you can understand how huge that is unless you’ve been there but let me tell you it is appreciated.

Stay Classy Blog Readers
Kelly

Love letter from the other side.

Monday, July 14th, 2008

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Andrea’s memorial and a private party at Tattooed Moms happened today. I will write more about this later, but for now I wanted to post the eulogy that I paraphrased today at her memorial.

Hello friends. Welcome. I need to take a moment speak for Andrea and thank you. This is her farewell, as she planned it and I don’t doubt that she is here smiling upon all of you.

Ephesians 2:8-10
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

I don’t crack a bible nearly as often as I should, and when I read this I wept. These words spoke to me because I cannot think of a verse that more accurately embodies Andrea’s story. I believe that god spoke though her to many in an organic relational way that allowed them to see the beauty within her soul. Her spirit was so much larger than life that even in dying she gave strength to those around her.

Those of you that know me will tell you that as far as the women go I have a type. That said they will probably also agree with me when I say when I saw her outside the bean on south street, I didn’t stand a chance. After a 5 minute conversation about nothing much, I thought about her non stop for days. Fortunately God (or was it Fran) handed me her number and I soon found out that she had been equally rocked. We talked on into the night (7 hours to be exact) and I fell deeper and deeper in awe of this woman. Over the years She has become, my lover, my partner, my best friend and most worthy adversary, my student and my teacher, and the mother of my son. Though I wanted so badly to grow old together and enjoy what John waters refers to as our Autumn years together, I will try not to be greedy, for God has spoken volumes to me through Andrea and my cup will remain full with her love and memory for years to come. The last thing Andrea taught me was the true essence of love between a man and a woman. Cancer is not pretty, It consumed the things I was originally attracted to, Pain meds are not kind, they provide relief but take away clarity, in the end looking into her eyes was my only solace, and that was enough. I know love and I am blessed.

It is impossible to think about Andrea without thinking about motherhood. It seems that almost everyone from the Philly punk scene days has a nick name and she was frequently spoken of as Andrea with all the kids. These days she is known to thousands as the punk rock mommy. Andrea was always on when it came to being a mommy. I remember her seeing a crying child sitting alone in pendot. She walks over to the child and says where’s your mommy? The child keeps crying. She says do you want me to pick you up? The little boy nods yes. The mother soon returns holding a newborn and grateful to Andrea for calming her child. I remember thinking that if I did that I’d probably get arrested. Andrea honed here unique style of outside the box parenting over the years and loves to talk shop with other parents. She liked to say she was raising productive members of the revolution. I probably shouldn’t speak for Tony, but I will, in saying that being a mother is work and being a great mother to some of the most amazing kids that most folks will ever meet is a full time job and I think we are both proud to have been a part of that. Financing a small army isn’t always easy. Parenting beside Andrea for the last four years have been the best times of my life. They have been years filled will laughter and amazement. She taught me how to do this and it is my honor to carry the torch for her and continue raising them as she would. Keeping promises I made to her and respecting her wishes for them. Alec Jesse Asa Tucker Bailey and Clayton, You may not know this but I fell in love with you guys at first sight too.

Andrea was diagnosed with cancer the day after she finished up her BA at Temple. She was diagnosed with stage three inflammatory breast cancer (which is a rare and aggressive form of hormone driven cancer). After the first round of scans her prognosis was changed to stage four or terminal. Andrea accepted this with little self pity and went about the work of fighting her cancer if only to have a little longer with the kids and I. It took me a little while longer to come to peace with the thought of losing my wife. Andrea spent the next three months on a toxic cocktail that made her ill most of the time. I spent that time withdrawn and terrified of getting my heart broken. It was beautiful watching the loving and smart way she broke the news to the kids, always the mother always the teacher she launched into the perfect unrehearsed lesson plan kind of like mommies dying of cancer 101. It was amazing to watch, who does that? Andrea approached her disease with a level of acceptance and measure of grace which I can only view as gods light shining through. She started a blog with spiritual overtones that touched and inspired thousands. She pulled herself out of her nauseous comatose state to go to fund raisers and other cancer related events taking the time to thank and embrace her friends. Bands broken up for years even reformed in her honor (if only for one night). She received quite a bit of press both in news papers across the nation, and radio and television interviews. I frequently teased her that she had celebrity cancer. She walked into chemo with her spirits bright and her head held high while it seemed that some of those around her felt dead already. I began to look forward to chemo day as well because it became like a date for us. Andrea played what we began to call the C card hard fast and often when it came to her children. She made the right connections to get her children into amazing schools and made sure they would be well taken care of. I could go on and on but my point is that Andrea turned this tragedy into a gift and gave it to all of us. Her spirit was so strong that sometimes it was hard to believe she was sick at all. Cancer may have killed her, but still did not defeat her as she lived and laughed and loved till the day she died.

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

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My lovely wife passed away at 10:30 this morning. She had a long slow decline from breathing complications that started at around 4 in the afternoon on the 4th. Perfectly fitting as she always loved fireworks so much in fact that she tried to talk me in to having our wedding on the fourth of July. Take a moment to think of her when you see the sky light up. Last night was by far the hardest night of my life (which says a lot), but the peace that remained and the knowledge that the pain is gone was truly awe inspiring. Orion and Naomi will go down in my list of saints forever as they stood by me through all. The children got to hold their mommy and whisper sweet nothings into her ear one last time as I called them home from the forth of July festivities when I became sure that she would cross over soon. She was well medicated but responded to them in a way that was painfully beautiful to watch. I have been up since 6 am yesterday and am grieving the loss of my best friend, but know that I am lucky to have shared the kind of love we had with her. If you want to know how you can help, you can… Pray for us, give us some room to grieve, hug your children like never before, and if you want to share $ I will be dividing the paypal donations between a trust for the kids, summer fun for the kids and clays child care.

I am so sorry to bring you sadness

Kelly

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

Rest

In

Peace

I proudly offer you…

Friday, July 4th, 2008

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Our son Jesse, 16, amazing, responsible, and trained in cpr to boot is looking for a few new baby sitting clients this summer. He is really amazing with toddlers and younger children and will give your child his undivided attention in a way that most teens will not. I am very confident in his abilities. I am proud of him and recommend him highly. you can call me @ 215 806 9540 or call him if you know him already.

Ps Jesse is such an awesome big brother to clay that I have probably about a hundred picture to choose from on this post but I chose this one because Jesse rocks!

Thanks
Kelly

Message of love

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

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I dropped Andrea off at the hospital today because she has not had a #2 in 4 days and is concerned. Her doctor is concerned as well because there is cancer both in her spine and in her bowels that may be the cause of this. I’m not writing this to alarm anyone. I’m just asking all of you to take a moment to pray for my wife. I’ll post more when I know. I have to work today at 4th st. body graphics. Pink and black nautical stars (my ongoing benefit for Andrea) make a great father’s day gift for the those man enough not to fear the pink. Happy fathers day Dad and Bill, if you are reading this and to all the fathers out there. A special thank you and fathers day greeting to Ratface My new parenting role model.

Love to all
Kelly

Naomi’s Prayer

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

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A lot of times I find myself awake and praying at odd hours of the night. I pray specifically to my creator, like this, “Thank you for the gift of Andrea in my life. Please help me to be the friend that you intend me to be, so that I may help her to become the person that you intend her to be.” My prayer is gratitude, for every person I pray for every day, and it’s a long list. My immediate family, Andrea’s family, our circle of friends. I don’t pray for the strength to endure the ups and downs of Andrea’s cancer. I don’t pray for more money, or time, or world peace. I just pray thanks for the gifts of all of the wonderful people in my life.

I don’t know if you know this, but Andrea’s love and straight talk helped me to get sober from alcohol. My sobriety has been the most amazing gift to my family, friends, and to me. In Alcoholics Anonymous, when you’re complaining about how bad a situation or person is in your life, someone will invariably say “Why don’t you do a gratitude list?”, which really means that you should shut the hell up with your whining and go figure out what’s good in your life. Most people find this to be an onerous task, finding the good in a bad situation.

One of the deepest levels that I connect with Andrea on is that God is good. I’m not a Christian, she’s not a tree hugger, but we connect deeply all the same. And often that connection is the reminder to each other that we have so much to be grateful for, and also that it is the way it is. Acceptance is different than defeat.

For many of us, Andrea’s cancer helps us to put things in our own lives into perspective. For some, it makes us more grateful for the things we have, health, love, family, etc. So I’m always surprised to see negative comments on the blog. Not that life isn’t shitty sometimes, but that someone’s joy in living in the moment could make someone else mad isn’t something I can relate to.

I pray constantly for acceptance and to be able to surrender to all the unanticipated ways that my life is changing. I pray for the acceptance that most people are self centered to the extreme, and don’t understand how hurtful their words can be. I pray that this touches all of our hearts and that we pause before we speak/write. I pray for healing and acceptance of this painful, uncertain and tragic situation. I pray for the joy of puppies, babies and spring to fill our lives.

Because in the end, no matter what I pray, it is what it is.

And I accept that, too.

Folkin Around

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Throughout the last year it has been necessary for my friends to throw a few fund raisers for our family. The on going one seems to be the need for childcare expenses which eat up a lot of our income. Because I am too weak, have appointments, or am sick I need an extra set of hands. My friend Shayna Riddle is in charge of that. She is also walking in the Susan G Komen 3 day walk event in my name again this year. Last year many of her sponsors came from blog readers. Which is awesome. Shayna is having a music night at her house with up and coming folk artist Nicole Reynolds. The event will go half and half to help my babysitting fund and Shayna’s sponsorship for her walk which benefits all women with breast cancer. If you can make it out or would like to help all the information is here. God bless you all.

Hey! Save the date!
Sunday june 8
7:00 pm or 3:00 pm

We are hosting ‘Folk music for a Cure’- an evening of music and fun and art.
Featuring singer songwriter and XPN favorite, Nicole Reynolds.

I’ll send a flier and more information when I have it but I wanted to let you know so you can mark it on your calendars.

The suggested donation is $20.00- and every cent goes to benefit the child care fund for Andrea Collins-Smith(cancer warrior) and the 60 mile walk for breast cancer that Erin and Shayna are going to attempt!

To buy tickets in advance, just email me at chana613@hotmail.com

For more info on the cause see the web site below. http://08.the3day.org/site/TR/Walk/SanFranciscoBayAreaEvent

www.nicolereynoldsmusic.com

Call for directions or more info. 609-458-3462

Shayna’s House
17 Willis Ave
Cherry Hill, NJ

Dr. Dan Gottlieb interview

Monday, May 26th, 2008

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Dr. Dan has now interviewed me three times. Which I think is funny. I never really thought the cancer stuff was all that interesting to “outsiders”. But anyway here I am again. He made 2 mistakes…I was 37 at diagnosis. And I loathe sea gulls. Other than that it is spot on. I hope you like it. I love Dan. He is a dear friend.

Inside Out: Dark news cannot dim her brilliant smile

By Dan Gottlieb

Inquirer Columnist
I first met Andrea Collins Smith in August when she was a guest on my radio show. This 36-year-old, married mother of six had tattoos up and down both arms, sparkling eyes, and the happiest smile I have ever seen. She also had a turban on her head, part of the uniform of a woman taking chemotherapy.

Three months earlier, Andrea had received her bachelor’s degree from Temple University. The next day, she went to see her doctor because she thought she had an infection on her breast. After several tests, she was diagnosed with stage four inflammatory breast cancer. This rare and aggressive form tends to be diagnosed in younger women such as Andrea. And the prognosis is grim.

She began a blog (www.punkrockmommy.org), to chronicle her illness. In her opening entry, she told about how the cancer had spread throughout her body. She will be on chemotherapy for the rest of her life, and there was no hope for remission, just a chance to prolong her life.

It was the eyes and the smile that got me. There she was filling the room with joy as she talked about life and death, her bilateral mastectomy, and her hysterectomy. She said that death sits with her on the sofa, “but today, it said I was OK. I could have today.”

At the end of the show, we embraced as I thought “I’ll never see this woman again.”

But I did. Six months later she was a guest on my television special. Although her condition had not improved, she was able to delight in being alive without fighting against death. Somehow, she seemed even more vibrant.

And then last month I got the call I was expecting. Her condition had begun to rapidly deteriorate. And so her support system had mobilized. They had to find a way to care for her and her family now and over the long term. Plans had to be made for food, child care, and the children’s education and welfare. Andrea didn’t have the strength to be fully involved in these decisions.

So when I spoke with her last week, her voice was weaker, yet she seemed even more delighted to be alive. She said that, in a strange way, she felt herself healing and being more open to her life. “It seems every time they examine me, they find more cancer. But instead of telling myself ‘Oh no, the end is coming’ or ‘Maybe the next one will be better,’ I am simply open to what is happening and enjoying each moment.”

Enjoying? “Hell yes. My friend just took my children and me to Ocean City for the day. I was sitting on the beach, feelings the sun on my face and watching my children when I turned to my daughter Bailey and said, ‘Honey, this is the best day of my whole life.’ “

She went on to explain that everything she loved dearly – her husband, her children, the ocean and the sea gulls – were with her at that moment. How could she not be happy, she wondered. “I seem to enjoy everything now, a good meal, a smile on my child’s face, sunshine or rain – everything brings me happiness.”

Andrea has no hope. She said hope was about expecting something from the universe and people rarely get what they want. Instead, they get what they get. “Ultimately, we need to be open to whatever happens to us and believe that is what we are supposed to have.”

She laughed often throughout the interview. And when I commented on that, she told me she had nothing to be unhappy about. “Not only am I blessed with so much beauty in my life, I have deep faith that gives me peace with the person I’ve become and the life I have.”

When I asked whether she had any further thoughts to share with those reading this column, she thought for a minute and said: “Don’t ever allow your circumstances or your situation to dictate your happiness.” And then she laughed.

“InsideOut” appears every other week. Family therapist Dan Gottlieb’s “Voices in the Family” airs Mondays at noon on WHYY-FM (90.9). On the Web: www.drdangottlieb.com.

Support (by Tucker)

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

This is a poem of thanks
To all who give me support.
You help me progress through ranks.
You’re the jury of my court.

You help me make decisions
And reveal my many faults.
You unearth my collisions,
And you’ll fix them ‘til life halts.

This is the poem I promised to post.