Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Leaving brings the oddest mixture of feelings. Happiness, hope, sadness, regret, guilt and a tinge of fear. I am happy and content with what I've done and accomplished here. The experiences that I know are completely unique and remarkable will no doubt offer countless memories. I'm hopeful for the future, for moving to a new city for a new start and to put some serious effort into building an organization of ambition and facilitation. I'm sad for leaving the community that has shown me so much compassion and love and taught me countless lessons in every imaginable subject. Life changing experience doesn't even come close to quantifying it. Regret for not being able to devote more time. Or for that little voice wondering if I could've done more. Guilt is tied closely with the regret and my lack of physical things to give. Life in Jaisalmer is unquestionably rough as a Merasi. Once again, I had to learn the lesson of not acting out of anger or frustration, but watching and learning how to handle difficulty with grace and dignity. Meghan literally never let anything beat her spirit. Ever. She was certainly beat down by disease and indifferent doctors but she never ever gave up. She never lost her focus.

My heart breaks wide open for people like that. People that are so willing to welcome you into their life and be part of their struggle and show you their strength. The meaning of strength. Some people are full of spirit and drive and determination and completely deserve everything they want out of life. It's inspiring to be around and hard to leave. "If you want something bad enough the whole world conspires to help you achieve it." not like the lottery or a new car. Something out of life you were meant to achieve. Your own greatness is waiting for you. You don’t have to be a billionaire or leader of an uprising. Personal greatness in the way of doing something meaningful with your life. Significant work that you and others mutually benefit from. If you want that, if you're actively seeking that path the world, the stars, your lost loves that have passed on have your back and clearing the road before you. It's almost like your body knows the way and your mind needs convincing.

I lost sight of that at first. My focus was off. I missed the forest for the trees. Those monumental epiphanies come when you're working through a lot of things. They come when your focus expands and your ability to absorb expands and you are making an effort to be there for it all. The light switch doesn’t flip when earth-shattering realizations are your singular goal.

One of the last few nights in Jaisalmer I was standing on my rooftop, not looking at anything. Soaking up the tinny chirp of the bats and the fishbowl effect of a cloudless star filled sky. And that's when it happened. I wanted to scream, to somehow audibly relieve every ounce of anger, frustration, guilt and heartbreak. I felt like a hole opened in the center of my chest with what felt like a direct link to everything. I wasn’t looking for anything, I was just there accepting. Not searching, not asking, just wanting it to all go away and be replaced by this newness. Something fresh, and complete.

It left. I didn’t need to do anything; I knew it wouldn't matter if I did. The world won't wait for me to catch up. I have to let it go. I have to get up. I have to be able to take everything in. I have to keep moving.

I'm being led. I have a direction that I am continually and gently nudged back into. All of these huge lessons I've learned along the way have only happened because of this communication and direction. Supernatural or tangible, I know where I'm going and why and I get feedback. It doesn't stop. She's not completely gone, she's not forgotten, I haven't moved on nor do I have any intention of doing so. Meghan has altered my life so profoundly that others need to understand her impact. I have finished a giant step for her and it's made me better and stronger and I have so much left to do, so much more important work. Thank you all for bring part of this with us and offering your support because it helps. It really does. It keeps me going on those bleak and dark days. It helps knowing Meghan’s legacy can still affect me and encourage/ inspire others. Thank you so much for being a part of this. These odd feelings are equal parts confusing and comforting and thank you for helping to induce them. I'm here to help and I have much to offer in return. I hope to be there for all of you as you have for us and for me in the beginning of this incredible journey

The world is a really beautiful place when you stop focusing on singular things and let all of the surrounding parts in. I think focusing less on the difficulties of rural Indian life or the hardships I was going through mentally and emotionally allowed to me to see where Meghan is and what she means to me now. Some people think those that have passed away still communicate with us as ghosts or through seemingly random occurrences or animals. Regardless what you believe, I think they are still here with us in a big way. That communication still happens through memory, at the very least. You know this person and how they'd react. You know what they would say to you in specific situations. You know how they respond to you and through that, they still lead you.
I'm being led.

I have a direction that I am continually and gently nudged back into. All of these huge lessons I've learned along the way have only happened because of this communication and direction. Supernatural or tangible, I know where I’m going and why and I get feedback. It doesn't stop. She's not completely gone, she's not forgotten, I haven't moved on nor do I have any intention of doing so. Meghan has altered my life so profoundly that others need to understand her impact. I have finished a giant step for her and it's made me better and stronger and I have so much left to do, so much more important work. Thank you all for bring part of this with us and offering your support because it helps. It really does. It keeps me going on those bleak and dark days. It helps knowing Meghan's legacy can still affect me and encourage and inspire others. Thank you so much for being a part of this. These odd feelings are equal parts confusing and comforting and thank you for helping to induce them. I'm here to help and I have much to offer in return. I hope to be there for all of you, as you have for us and for me in the beginning of this incredible journey.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

the will

It doesn't matter how hard any of this is.

I shouldn't say it doesn't matter, because it does. It's going to be important later on when I look back and think about the things I've gone through and overcome. There is a lot of significance in this time, but what I should say is that's not what I should be focusing on. I should be focusing on where I am and why I'm here. It is definitely remarkable and hard to believe that I'm in India. India was hardly on my radar of places to visit until I met Meghan, and even then I tried to talk her out of it. I just wasn't really interested. I get it though. I get why India was so important to her. Meghan always sought challenges and India is certainly full of them. She wanted to experience as much as possible and India is vastly different end to end. Camels, wild peacocks, antelope and elephants all in the same day. It's amazing how old the tombs and temples and culture and customs are. They've remained largely unchanged for the last 500 years. She would love hanging out with the old men in the chai stalls (I should clarify, she would've loved it for the first ten seconds of sitting there and then would've quickly been fed up with the old men blatantly staring and asking which country) or sharing a meal with villagers on a blanket after dark in the desert under the stars (guaranteed more shooting stars than you can count) or wandering through the endless maze of tiny alleys in Jaisalmer. These are experiences that few get to be part of and she would have loved that they were hers. They are hers.

It will be six months that she's been gone this Wednesday, as of few days ago I didn't think I was at all prepared for it. I know six months is a completely arbitrary mile-marker, but it exists and it exists to remind me that I'm alone. That she isn't here anymore. I didn't think I could handle it. I might not be able to. But so far, I am doing IT. That's the point. I am in the middle of it, still surviving and coping and carrying on. I am still here.

Meghan would be so proud and overcome at all that has happened in the past months. Things have progressed beyond what either of us ever expected. She would be so happy with the current place and the path for the future. We do have big plans for all of this. This doesn't just end with me. My goal is to make myself obsolete and have this entity carry on as its own, spurring others to live in Meghan's legacy, reflecting on all that she has to offer and all the of the strength she made so clearly visible for us to see. She is, in every way, extraordinary. Thanks to her I know how to let myself be upset, to grieve, to evaluate everything, then pick myself up and trudge through the mire life so often carelessly distributes to those that hardly ever deserve it.

We are amazing in that we possess will. We have the ability to see the impossible for what it is and overcome with sometimes nothing more than our determination. I watched Meghan do it countless times and on a regular basis. Overcoming provided fulfillment for her, like one would expect, but not like the journey to get there. Those individual steps were her triumph, the bumps along the way that she wouldn't let slow her down. It didn't matter how imposing those roadblocks were. The struggle is what held the significance.

She didn't let life pass her by. She allowed herself to relax and enjoy tiny moments that others hurried to get through. The small stuff holds the significance. The good, the bad. The heavy and the light. Where you are and why you're there is significant. Drinking coffee with a loved one is significant, not the stupid fight you have that keeps you from talking. Drinking chai in a sandstone hut has weight. Riding the slow bus to the beach has weight. Going to a hockey game with your family and best friends has weight. Not the final score, not the cost of the ticket, not the chai itself. Its the up and the down, the happy and the sad, the pieces that make up the whole that are important.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Wall

In the last week I feel like I've hit a wall. The one made up all those painful feelings and memories of losing Meghan that's insurmountable and seemingly infinite on both sides. I've managed, off and on to turn my back on it and pretend it's not there or walk alongside it but again, avoid it. Until this past week. I've run out of ground to distract myself. It's here and it's huge and it's sad. And it makes me every bit as upset as it did five months ago. I have trouble sleeping at night, because every time I close my eyes I see the film reel of Meghan. If I'm lucky it has sound and I feel close and connected, if not I'm forced to watch from far away and I feel completely alone. Half the time I have to sleep holding a pillow or rolled up blanket.

All of this intense, heavy feeling combined with the cultural difference made me unfairly dislike India. And that is so unfair, to jumble a set of feelings into a judgment about one country. Not just one country, India. One-fifth of the worlds population. 150 different languages and thousand year old customary traditions that change as fast as the towns along the highways. India is beyond rich in life. I've been unfair.

I hated the hawking and heckling. I still do, but I think of it differently and react differently. With so much competition its hard to set yourself apart if you cant get a patron's attention. I hated the dirt and grime, but that too, I think of differently. Being dependent on tourism means a lack in infrastructure to upgrade things like sewer systems or electricity. Theres also an 'if it aint broke don't fix it mentality." India can be overwhelmingly difficult and intense. But so is Chinatown. Any Chinatown. Somehow though, I feel at ease about Jaisalmer. I'm not as frustrated, it's a slower pace of life here which can be pretty relaxing if you let it. I'm faced with these choices of how I can react to situations every day. It doesn't do me any good to react in anger, it just furthers my frustration. I feel more connected to the school and the people in it. The children are quickly responding to the English lessons and have made huge progress in their comprehension.

Back to the not sleeping. That too, I look at differently. It's not something to be sad about. Yes, what happened is incomprehensibly sad. But, I do have very vivid memories of Meghan. Some say that they can't remember facial features or voices or smells or instances after time and I still have all of that. I'm fairly confident it's not going
anywhere either. I miss her so much and I'm grateful she's still here in some capacity.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

heart problem, part two

I feel equal parts happy and sad, like water of the same river flowing in opposite directions. I find contentment in much the same things that trigger the movie reel of Meghan, usually leading to despair. I am lonely. Not alone, or even far away feeling, but lonely. I lack companionship in its perfect form. It was stolen along with the last bit of my happy heart.

Watching life slip from a friend's loved one in much the same manner as I have experienced doesn't do much to help stave off those sad memories. They only make
me see how the world is mostly unaffected by all of it. It keeps going, keeps spinning, either out of determination or habit, unaware of my Meghan, my friends father, your sibling or child. It doesn't care. It's all part of the game were forced to play. It's all a part were meant to play with enormous risk and what gain? I'd be lying if I said this didn't make me weigh the outcome of not continuing. It really does seem pointless, God, gods or not.

A close friend's father is dying and it's beyond a mental and emotional complication to be part of that. First, he can't get medical attention because he's an untouchable. Second, me being foreign, means that I'm as good as a doctor to my Indian friends. I had to remove his IV the other day and I've been dispensing what little medical knowledge I have left and right. Third, it's all too familiar. So much of it reminds of watching Meghan slip away. I can barely have a conversation with my friend without having to bight down on some part of the inside of my mouth to keep from crying.

There's so much here I don't understand and am constantly frustrated by. I can't walk through the market without being heckled to buy someones bag, t shirt or tapestry. This place is filthy, I mean filthy. No one has trash cans, they walk to the front door and throw everything into the street. There's cattle and pigs and mange infested dogs everywhere also throwing their waste into the streets and walkways.

Once a week some boys will come by the school with a giant net and round up a some of the stray pigs, which make horrible, murderous noises when being captured, to be slaughtered and fed to the hotel guests. The same pigs that literally sleep and eat in the open sewer gutter. Families will feed the cows cardboard and paper and let them graze in the trash, then at night those families will milk the cows and use that milk in everything they eat... then they complain about disease and birth defects.

What matters is sticking to the customs of your caste...which were invented by the uppermost caste 1000 years ago. Everyone knows it's an arbitrary system and everyone refuses to upset it. Except my friend, who is at the very bottom of this system slowly fighting his way up. Literally fighting. His family dies because of it and he gets acid thrown on him while he's riding his scooter through town.

I think I was coming here expecting to meet some wise old yogi or something that would walk me through all the things I'm dealing with and lead me on the path to mental clarity...and I feel this has only confounded it. I know my friend is having a rough time and trying to keep himself busy and I know he's frustrated that the world won't stop for him to catch his breath. It's awful to watch the hi-light reel of something that's so fresh in my memory.

I guess all this is good because it's all inescapable. I'm forced to face all of this and figure it out for myself, or just deal with it. All of this bad and hard emotional things are tempered with some good. We drive out into the desert often and that's always fascinating. Three nights ago we drove out for an hour and then abruptly took a left off the road into the dirt for another fifteen. It took me a while to figure out where we were going and then I saw these two tiny lights way off in the distance. When we got there I figured out it was his friend's cell phones they were holding up. It's that f'ing dark out there. We had a pretty amazing and surprisingly well lit meal as far from any kind of civilization as I've ever been. The sky separated from a city's light pollution is remarkable. Our only company being the snakes and scorpions and camels. Stuff like that is phenomenal to be a part of, but you're pretty quickly confronted with reality the second you start heading back to town.

There was a motorcycle crash on the one lane road, they left the bikes in the middle of the road all tangled and blood all around. They put up a strange memorial with rocks around almost looked staged. Half the car thought it was a trap. But we got out looking for people to help and one of the guys saw writing on one of the bikes and decided it was ok to leave them, because they were Muslim. Thank God they were a different religion, otherwise we'd be forced to care about them. There weren't any hurt people around, the ambulance had already come, so that point didn't need arguing, but still. Religion does awful things to people.

If my friend's dad dies, they have to shut down the school for 3 days and keep their home open for forty, so the upper caste people can come 'mourn'. It sounds nice, except the upper caste made up his custom as a way to check in on the lower castes and essentially to bankrupt them. They come into the house and snoop around and eat their food. The grieving families have to provide food for everyone that comes. These people take advantage of a horrible situation through theft and the depletion of valuable resources while the family is simply trying to bury its dead.

There's a strange perfection I've realized in all of this chaos. One single perfect note found amidst a horrible and clumsy chord. I was talking with my friend about life and death. He says we are feeling the same things and that I understand what he is dealing with. Death is not ok and never will be. It's a loss in the purest definition of the word. There is something that once made you whole, gone. My friend said that there are something akin to ghosts when people pass on. Not their physical forms or even spirits but their journey or path or life left unfinished that continues on and 'haunts' those left behind. He said that Meghan is happy and passed away peacefully because her path was entrusted to me. She knew I would continue on for her and was comforted and released by that. He kept asking me why not her brother or father or mother? The answer to those are that they didn't need it and I did. They are where they should be and don't need to find their 'key'. He said this path leads to the key, like Ali Babba's search for the key. All of this is true. His father is at peace because my friend has his path (fighting this system from the bottom up.) He knows he has to continue to get to that key. Meghan passed away peacefully. I was there, I watched it. My friend said that at the time of death they are closer to their god than the world and see things differently. They can understand things that we are unable to. Maybe this is true and maybe it isn't. Maybe more synapses are firing, maybe less, maybe different synapses are firing and people close to that time are more capable of experiencing more. Whatever the explanation, Meghan was at peace. I know it in the deepest part of my soul, I know it completely. And I believe my friend is right, she was peaceful because she knew we were all going to eventually be ok because of our paths, our direction and our eventual discovery of that either physical or metaphorical key.

I have heard and read about so many cultures that measure knowledge and wisdom in the number and severity of scars. They are all experiences that we learn from. India so far has been painful and difficult in so many different ways but each of it's tiny inflictions leave a permanent mark that will ultimately heal. These experiences are instantly jarring, but dissected and explained, or looked at from another perspective have much to offer.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Oh, heart problem"

"Oh, heart problem. After you leaving here change, head and heart change."

Last week started with that. The naturally curious kids asked many questions, including "are you married?". It was nice to be able to convey what happened, receive a genuine response and then not have to make the other person feel better about it. That was his response to my being here because of Meghan.

Why do some people so easily get it and not feel like they have to make excuses for terrible things that happen? They're surprisingly direct and understanding. They're empathetic and don't bother with sugar-coating. Sugar-coating makes things worse, as if the other person is dismissing what you're saying or trying to avoid any difficult feelings or conversation.

So, that's how it all began and it didn't necessarily make me feel like life here was going to get easier for me. Between the 10 hour days at the school, constant electrical issues and a general feeling of discomfort and isolation, I was worn out. Also the school runs 6
days a week and if possible, 7. It's also insanely hot, which is physically draining, and being India, none of these 'schedules' are set in stone. You honestly have no idea what you're going to be doing day to day.

For instance, yesterday, I was planning on being at the school at 11 (we needed to start early to get in extra long class time!? On Sunday!? Day 7!?) to teach classes all day. But, after being there for half an hour the power went out and stayed off for another 30 minutes so I decided to get food in town. I found a place that makes half decent veggie burgers that cost the same as any Indian food in town. After my meal I set to wander town and immediately ran into the school director and some out-of-town visitors. They were about to go into the desert to see an abandoned village and the dunes. They invited me along. Hmm, fight with the electricity and ineffectively teach for 8 hours or see things you probably won't ever have the chance to again? I chose teaching.
No, I didn't.

The first stop was a secret desert lake. It was pretty spectacular. It's surrounded by a roughly ten foot circular berm. Which does a fantastic job of hiding the place. The shore is littered with all sorts of fossils and the water was like glass, completely still and reflecting everything around it. Beyond the dirt berm is surprisingly lush farmland that grows millet for roughly half a mile in every direction. Definitely a peaceful way to start the tour.

After the lake we went to the highest point in Jaisalmer district, which has a hindu temple on top. Near the temple is an entrance to a cave with a tunnel that goes all the way back to the city(35 km of tunnel) that the priests used to use and could apparently ride a horse inside. The entrance we saw was maybe two feet high. Maybe. Legends
are fun though right?

From the temple we went to the dunes. I've seen dunes before, both beach and desert, but these are really impressive. They rise almost out of nowhere. We were in the seemingly endless craggy desert, full of huge sandstones, random bushes, dirt and then all of a sudden you're standing on top of a windswept dune staring at infinite sand (which is still oddly the same color as the rest of Jaisalmer). The wind lines are so perfect, almost like millions  of snake-like wood carvings. 

In the distance, I saw a caravan of camels, whose tracks look strangely like a horsehoe crab minus the tail pressed into the sand. The colors perfectly complement each other, puffy white clouds, super rich baby blue sky, dusty green trees and cactii (officially the first time I've been able to write that word into a sentence), and expansive rusty colored sand. If they were clothes, it'd be a pretty solid outfit.

Speaking of clothes, I've been wearing the same ones the entire time I've been here. One pair of pants because shorts are inappropriate for teachers and jeans sound like a pretty awful burden, and two long sleeve shirts, again with the short being sort of inappropriate and the less tattoos I show the easier it is on me. So, I probably smell bad and I'm constantly wet. I've never sweat so much in my life. I drink an astronomical amount of water everyday (close to 7 liters) and I'm constantly sweating. It's so strange. I wonder if the Indian people are equally as affected, they don't seem like it?

Back to the desert. From the dunes we drove to the place I spent my first night for some tea and to drop off supplies. I got to see another sunset in the desert and again with the crazy star show all in less than half an hour.

Now, double-back to the conversation at the beginning of the week. Before I came I didn't really know what to expect in terms of healing or learning but I definitely didn't expect sage advice from the mouths of children. Having an existential conversation with an 11 year old will quickly alter your way of thinking and since the first day I think I
stopped missing the forest for the trees kind of thing. Yes, this place is filthy and hot and smelly and frustrating but when a kid grasps what you're going through and the journey you're on with a limited knowledge of your language, it definitely makes you slow down
and consider what is really happening. 

He's right though, I will be changed, I'm already changed and I have a lot to learn still. I have to remain willing to see beyond the striking contrast to what I'm accustomed to
and really understand or seek out how that can apply to what I'm going through. I do have a heart problem. I have the problem. It's not up to someone else to fix it, it won't magically get fixed or filled up with time. I have to work at it. I have to be here, be present and be open to helping people here and learn from them. I have to let my head and my heart change, not hold on to the grief I've experienced, not be defined by it, but be defined by the lives I've been lucky enough to experience (Meghan's) and what great lessons I've learned from them.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


The train to Jaisalmer started out just like the beginning of Darjeeling Limited. My friend brian and I literally had to run with my bags and hop onto a moving train. The ticket was confusing so I had to guess as to where my seat was. I passed a four bed cabin that was blowing AC out of the open door, hoping that any combination of the letters and numbers on my ticket matched a bed in there, but to no avail. I found bed number 12 which I thought was on my ticket and tried to settle in to that space. The car ran two beds high along one wall the length of the car with rows of two running perpendicular along the other wall. All in all it slept probably 30 people in this section. Not uncomfortable looking but I definitely felt a bit exposed because I couldn't find curtains for the bunks. Oh well. I hadn't eaten in probably 6 hours and was pretty hungry and hoped they would be bringing magical Indian food down the aisles or taking orders or something. Instead, there were a few guys with kettles walking up and down the aisle yelling "domaaatozoooop". I had to ask after the fourth time...tomato soup. Eh. Also kind of scary. You never know how old it is etc etc.
The ticket checker came and told me I was in the wrong car. It was my lucky day, sort of, I was in fact in the AC blower. It was So, so cold in there, quieter and more isolated even though I had to share with 3 others. I had the top left bunk which included access to an outlet and control of a vent.
The only let downs were the lack of buffet cart still(i was getting more and more hungry as time went on) and the bed was hard as rock. Plywood is more comfortable, at least there's some give.  You have to change position every twenty minutes or so because something is constantly falling asleep. Sleep was fitful but I had 18 hours to get enough of it. Man, it was seriously a long train.
I had to jump out of the train at 4 in the morning to grab some quick snacks and jump back on before the train left. You don't have much time at all in the stations. The "coach" sections of the train are pure pandemonium. Before the train is  mostly stopped people are trying to cram into every open door. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is shoving. People climb on top of the train, people hang out the windows. Its crazy. I've never seen anything like it. There's people everywhere. Back on the train I basically slept until we got to jaisalmer.
Jaisalmer is by far the craziest place I've been. Everything from the sand to the roads to the camels to the buildings is the same shade of pinkish rust. It really does feel like the last stop on the train, the end of the line, whatever that entails. It's not scary, but it is a bit unsettling to be mobbed by 20 or so men right outside the station, asking to take you to their brother's hotel, that is far better than the other taxi drivers offering the same thing. It's also hot. It's well over 100 with a touch of humidity to ensure your complete lack of comfort at all times.
The town centers around a massive fort in the center. The city sort of spirals its way down to sea(or sand?) level from the hill that the fort is perched on. The maze(I know, boring metaphor but apt) of hand-built stone walkways are remarkable on their own. Everything is made of stone. Huge stone. And there's all manner of distinct people milling around, dodging the cows eating out of the gutter or whatever it is they do.
It took me about an hour to make it to the school I am to be working at for the next few months. The school is amazing. It's immaculate. The three story building has marble floors throughout and old rugs everywhere. On the walls are old folk instruments, pictures and pottery. The walls are brightly painted. While we (about 10 kids and a music teacher that doubles as the rickshaw driver named Rasul) wait for the school director, Sarwar, to get there, they all treat me to an impromptu concert which all of you at some point should experience.
Everyone trades instruments constantly and sings. They mostly use the tabla (drum), harmonium (accordion like floor mini piano), finger cymbals and castanets. They all know every part of these really intricate songs and it's pretty intense trance-inducing music (don't tell the hippies about this place, they ruin everything.) All of this is incredibly exciting but the whole experience lacks someone to share it with.
I am very aware of how alone I am here. Almost every here experience reiterates my sense of isolation. I miss Meghan a lot and I wish she were here to share this with me. Taking her memory to these far off places isn't enough. I find that she's the only one I want to talk to about everything I'm experiencing and how far off and strange it all is. I'd love to see her reaction to the camels and cows and goats and pigs roaming free in the city.
She wouldn't be able to control herself at the sight of the school rickshaw packed to the brim with the kids from the music school, all completely content in everything they're doing. I think that is one of the first lessons I'm to learn on this portion of the trip. To be content and not always looking for something bigger and better.
There's a line in one of my favorite songs Brian and I were blasting in the back of his car in Delhi the other night, that really stuck a nerve. "if I've come with all I have I've come with all I need." How many of us live like that? I'm don't, yet. I try to, with packing light, but blinking flashing light up gadgets are definitely a weakness and I tend to overdo it. I need to get away from wanting more. I need to be content with what I have and be content with giving what I can offer.  
The kids here constantly want to include me and make me feel like a part of them, there is a constant stream of black chai and instruments being forced into my hands. I know they don't have much, but they'd give beyond what they can just to make me feel comfortable and happy. Meghan is much the same. She always wanted to make people feel taken care of and comfortable. In Korea she would make me food or refill my bus card before it had a chance to run out. She wanted her loved ones to feel loved, taken care of and content.
Had I not come here, I wouldn't have had that conversation about the song or noticed how giving these children are and then related it to Meg. Meghan is slowly, piece by piece putting my heart back together with these tinny realizations of who she is and what she meant to myself and others. In my one backpack, I have more than I need to live and feel content. Get rid of what you don't need and give what you can, the benefits you reap far outweigh the junk you're keeping.  

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I cannot begin to explain how completely excited I am. This all feels so overwhelmingly right and perfect and if ever I felt Meghan's presence, it is here and today. It is hot, sticky, the roads are packed with all manner of motorized transportation and everyone is honking, but it's so right. I walked into the coffee shop and they were playing Queen. Not just any song, but Bohemian Rhapsody. If you don't understand why that's perfect you should stop reading and we shouldn't be friends.

 I wish I could somehow turn text into video or at the very least audio. This is so strangely wonderful.  The trash man, at 7 in the morning sings about picking up your garbage like it's a call to prayer. There's pigeons making that weird cooing noise that normally fosters disgust (and probably still should as I'm sure they're every bit as dirty here, as on the east coast) outside every window.

Speaking of windows, two dudes just climbed out the restaurant window onto the roof. What?! I'm in love with this. So many moustaches and deep boatneck t-shirts. Delhi could easily be the new Williamsburg. (joke, see boat-neck reference.)

Also, my meal just cost $1.20.

I spent the rest of the day walking around Parliament, outside the presidents house and Old Delhi. It was hot. Did I already say that? That it's really, uncomfortable hot. I haven't stopped sweating. I feel like when it rains in Delhi its not actual rain, it's just everyones collective evaporated sweat coming back down. It's just so thick and muggy and kind of gross feeling.

Old Delhi is really intense. It's packed with people and noisy. The streets are noticeably narrower and noticeably dirtier. This is my first encounter with the homeless and the hustlers. A lot of people are trying to sell you something or get you to give them something. There were kids wearing either tops or bottoms, but not both and some wearing nothing. It's startling and filthy but still happy? It's not instrusive so much when they ask for money or offer a ride, I understand why they're doing it. There isn't much else for an illiterate ten year old without a provider to do. You can't help but be affected.

It's hard to imagine or believe sleeping on the ground next to a goat that gets the cot, or under a tarp next to the road amidst the trash and throngs of people.  I need to clarify both trash and throngs. Trash is not cigarette butts or half a newspaper. I mean TRASH. The parking lot literally looks like a dump (side note, the taxi drove down stairs to get there!). It's unpaved and is literally, garbage. Food trash, paper trash, waste trash, rotting and nauseating trash. And throngs; Imagine an Asian subway where people are packed, forcefully, into each car. Imagine that with temperatures in the 90's and nearly 100% humidity, with constant honking and yelling and seemingly no order to the direction or flow or people and traffic.  It feels insane and so very, very alive.

People are generally happy and nice. Kids ask for money and when you say you have none they ask you to take their picture instead. You say no to rickshaw rides at most 3 times and then they pedal off. Well, they pedal forward 3 feet then are stuck again in the traffic. The traffic is mind-blowing and somewhat terrifying. There's lanes and signs which are apparently nothing more than mere suggestions. Two lane roads usually have four cars across. Traffic is composed of motorbikes constantly weaving in and out, the 3 wheeled 'autos' that are like a covered tricycle mopeds, compact cars and vans, huge trucks, cattle carts, buses, and yes, the errant elephant ( I have proof). While all of this is happening, there are also people running out into traffic to cross the road and somehow, there aren't accidents. None. The closest I came to any sort of a bump was when a rickshaw rested it's front wheel on the back of the auto I was in and I felt a slight nudge. Everyone just has this innate sense of how things work I guess and is magically hyper-aware of what everyone else is doing. It's seriously scary to someone accustomed to lights and signals and lanes and mirrors, but after a couple of minutes you get over it, or maybe just give in and see it as entertainment.

After Old Delhi, I went to the arch commemorating the soldiers who fought for the British during the first world war and hung out for an hour or so before heading back to my friends house, for a much needed shower (very, very much needed) and then nap.

Meghan would have, no doubt, felt as overwhelmed as I do. There is so much to process here. In one day so much. I could hear Meghan talking about how cute the little kids in their school outfits were, packed 8 to a rickshaw built for two. Or her suprise at a cattle cart being stuck in traffic alongside cars or the elephant lumbering down the road with motorcycles zooming all around it. And the hissing monkey! She would've lost it! It's sad that I'm doing this alone sometimes. But, I do feel at peace with this leg of my journey. I know why I'm here and I'm excited to learn. Someone asked me yesterday why she wanted to come to India and I didn't know. I don't know. That's why I'm here. I'm trying to figure that out and learn more about her. By coming here and feeling her reaction to the things I'm experiencing, I'll understand.  I know she wouldn't have expected it to be the way that it is. Some things would've shocked and appalled her. I know how much she loved Indian food and how exciting it would've been for her to have the real thing. It's fantastic, really fantastic. I'm so excited about this whole process of learning and experiencing and taking her with me to all of this. She is constantly teaching me and urging me to be better and more through all of this. I can't wait for what's next.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Spark


I'm excited. I feel very much that this is the right thing for me to be doing. It's already been a long journey getting to this point and I have so much longer to go. I can't thank you all enough for how much you've done for me. It means so much to mention be able to do this for Meghan. I know she would be happy and proud of all that's happened so far. This feels like a really huge step for me. This is the beginning of something huge and important and I'm only looking forward to everything I'm going to learn. In the last 4 months I've come to understand who I am an what I'm supposed to be doing with my time. Meghan set all of that in motion by inspiring myself and so many others. I hope none of you take what you have for granted. The point of us being here is to improve things. To make things better for all of us. Meghan in far too short a time managed to better so many and encourage countless others to do good things. Make sure you are working towards a positive impact in whatever it is you are doing. My job is to carry that message and to share Meghan's legacy. To make a lasting and positive impact everywhere I go.

Friday, August 20, 2010

vlog #1

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


The trip started today and I feel like I better understand the path that I'm now on. I was really scared up until the time that I actually left. Until I started in a direction. All that apprehension has somehow been replaced with purpose and understanding.  I get where I'm going and how long it may take and I am ok with that. I’ve found comfort. I cant explain it, the realization, but I know its there. Its ok for me to be sad, happy, depressed, scared, excited etc. etc. It’s ok for me to feel anything that I'm feeling. Meghan showed me who I am, the strength that I possess and what I am capable of. I will be ok because of her.

This, all of this, is going to get huge. Meghan has so much to tell future generations and I wont stop until there is a record, a very permanent record of what she has shown us about living life. We have a lot to accomplish still together. And we will.

It’s hard to watch the world continue on without you or refuse to slow despite how badly you need the break. I think it’s important to not be crippled by that. It’s important to keep moving, to pick a direction and go. You may not be sure it’s the right one but at least it's not where you were. At least you're  not in the same sad place, not trying to make things better for yourself. Movement is healing. It’s better to be out searching for the right path than to be stuck without one.

I am actually doing it. After all the planning and stressing and talking, it is underway. I do feel alone but I feel great to be alone. Unafraid and ready (I might regret saying I feel ready later on) to start actually doing these things for Meghan. The more I move, the more is accomplished. It's amazing that all of this is sort of unfolding in front of me because of her, amazing and reassuring. I think a lot of you were right in that I might not need some otherworldly encounter to know she's still part of me. The fact that this is happening and will continue to grow because of her and how she affected others should be proof enough.  Meghan doesn't want us to stop. She doesn't want us to complete a goal and get complacent. There is always more, there is always better, there is always up.

It's important to continually challenge yourself to move on, and do more. At the very least, to move forward. I feel ok with where I am right now. I feel ok with what I’m doing and where I’m going. This is a good path and Meghan would be happy with the progress I've made in her name.

Monday, July 19, 2010


I started a week ago driving from Detroit to Meghan’s cottage in Tobermory, Ontario. Its without a doubt not getting any easier the further I get from Meghan. The cottage is absolutely her favorite place on earth. It’s where she went to recoup and relax, to sort things out and to spend time with family. We spent every one of her birthdays there as long as I knew her and I’m fairly certain, every single one before I knew her. It was also where we were going to have our big wedding ceremony and reception. I knew what I was getting myself in to by going up there, but I also knew the pain would be slightly buffered by having our close friends with her family and mine this past week. None of this is getting any easier.

We spent the weekend doing things Meghan would’ve wanted to, playing board games, canoeing, drinking and talking. Saturday was the hardest. That was supposed to be the day of our ceremony. I spent as much energy as I could trying to keep my mind occupied and not think about it. I can’t decide what hurts more, to avoid thinking about something you know is there or to fully accept it for what it’s supposed to be. To pretend that everything is normal and that Saturday didn’t mean anything because it’s just another Saturday, or to take it head on. Go and sit under the tree where Meghan kept her hammock and where the ceremony was going to be. Let my imagination go and think about how she would’ve looked or how the day would’ve gone. I chose the former although im not convinced it was the wisest choice.

We went into town and wandered around for a bit, took pictures and in general tried to enjoy ourselves. We went to the lighthouse and saw a couple taking wedding pictures with all of their friends dressed up and milling around. That was pretty hard to see. Being jealous of people’s happiness is a strange thing to go through. It felt unfair. It still feels unfair that Meghan never got to be that girl having her picture taken in her amazing dress. I hate that I couldn’t make that happen for her somehow.

For me the trip took a nose-dive after that. It was so much fun and so great to have our friends there, but I couldn’t get over why we were there and what that week was supposed to mean. Everything hurt. Everything I do reminds me of, or makes me think about Meghan. I miss her so much. I want so badly to feel her next to me or just to hold my hand. I would give an appendage or any possession just to know and feel that she is still here in some capacity with me. So many friends and family have these experiences where they’re convinced the animal or butterfly or star is Meghan signaling to them that she’s still here, still a part of all of this. I would literally give anything for that. Just to feel and know in my heart that tie isn’t broken because
she isn’t physically here anymore. Anything. I don’t want to lose her or forget the small things about her that no one else knows. I want to stay attached. I want a deer to walk out of the woods and put something in my hand or for once in my life have a dream that I remember or one that has meaning where Meghan tells me something important. I’d love to believe in any and all of this. I’ve looked for reasons to believe this, but nothing happens ever. I still sleep poorly. I don’t have dreams that I remember. I don’t have amazing encounters with wildlife or nature or people. Everything continues as it was. I waiver between being depressed and trying to pretend that I’m fine and don’t feel anything.

All of the friends left late Sunday and I spent the rest of my time doing things alone. I went for a really great hike that I did two years before with Meghan and her family to a secluded swimming spot. It was definitely refreshing mentally and not altogether sad. Its hard coming to terms with being alone. Its like these things we used to do are somewhat nice but don’t really bring me any closure or closer. I have to move forward and move on to come to any sort of
rationalization of everything that happened. If I stay where I am, or where I was, Ill never be able to deal with it all.

I left the day before Meghan’s birthday mostly because I was scared to be at the cottage for it. I knew I couldn’t handle her not being there, not waking me up in the morning to play scrabble with her or giving her presents or having her grandmother sing her happy birthday. That’s been the hardest part, the things that should be. The big and the small that Meghan should still be here for. We spent her birthday doing things that she liked to do around St. Catharine's; exercising, drinking gin 'n tonics, hiking, Japanese food, her favorite pub and then going to bed early. It was somehow easier to not be sad there. The place was still full of memories of and with her, but this was easier than the cottage. I'm not entirely sure what the difference is.

I left the following morning to drive to New Jersey to pick up a friend and then head down to my home in DC. I felt like a character in a Kerouac book. A seemingly random long list of events and people that blur together and never lose speed. It just keeps going. This is endless. The world keeps going. It never slows down because of how sad you are or how awful something that happened to you is. You don’t get breaks. You can’t rest. Fighting the current only makes you want to give up, it makes it all seem hopeless and worthless. You have jump in headfirst and without a paddle. I think Meghan understood this and that’s what kept her going. She knew slowing down, stopping, or wallowing in despair would only wear her out and keep her from her
goals. She didn’t stop because she knew going against the grain was worthless in this respect. It's important to embrace these seemingly impossible things in life. It's important to set your sights well beyond what you think you’re capable of accomplishing. Achieve a goal and make the next step twice as big as the first. Don’t save any energy for the return trip. There might not be one.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

For My Hero

Today do something meaningful with someone you love and for someone you know needs it.

Raise that gin 'n tonic high, today Meghan turns 29.

Friday, July 9, 2010


I know how important it is to do interviews and be part of national media, but it all honesty, it makes me uncomfortable. My stomach churns for hours. Luckily the second it starts, I start to feel less anxious and begin to feel ok, but it's a pretty brutal process.

It's also difficult because I talk about Meghan constantly. It's really really hard and depressing to remember how exhausting it was for Meghan and the incredible struggle she suffered through. These people that I talk to don't know the half of it. I don't know the half of it. When I say Meghan was far stronger than I'll ever be, I mean it. Meghan literally, very literally went through hell and back. Twice. English doesn't have an expression big enough to convey that root strength that comes from something way deeper than most of us will be able to understand in our lifetime.

The effort fueled by nothing other than her will she put in to fighting cancer is purely the stuff of legend. Meghan could have run down a lion if she felt it important. And this is the part that's the heaviest for me. Few completely understood that about her. These interviews don't give me enough chance to make people understand. I'm afraid the interviewers won't get it or they're only curious because of what I'm doing. This isn't about MY story, this is about hers. I don't care in the least about the spotlight. I am not the important one in this. It's all completely, totally, entirely because of what Meghan started two and a half years ago.

Meghan is a hero, she put everything out there for others to read so they might find some comfort, strength or encouragement from her struggle. She was so private and shy. It was hard for her to do that. She didn't let many in, but felt it was important enough to let EVERYONE in on something that isn't easy to see, hear or talk about. She gave the world a great gift and deserves so much in her memory.

Meghan deserves to be talked about forever to show future generations what real, tangible strength, will and heart mean. Talking on camera or radio is hard (especially afterwards), but I know it's necessary and I know I can keep doing it. It's important for Meghan and it's important for others to understand her.

CBC Television Interview about Meghan

Monday, July 5, 2010

fire at night

It’s been exactly a year since I left DC for Michigan to be closer to Meghan. This has by far been the most trying year of our lives. Meghan had so many ups and downs. The effort she put in to being healthy and better is something I will never be able to comprehend. She so deserved to get better. I know there are other good people out there and I don’t want to lessen the impact of their lives or what they went through but Meghan really did deserve so much more. I read somewhere that we don’t necessarily mourn for the loss of someone but more the lack of future with them. I think there’s a lot of truth in that, all of the things they won’t get to do or be a part of. It’s almost too much. Going to see fireworks last year had an entirely different meaning. It was still about something coming to and end but it also meant a new beginning with someone. The one. This year it’s about a new beginning alone, but alone for someone. Its almost too much, to be alone and know you’re meant to be alone. I am completely overwhelmed. Not physically, but mentally. This is all real.... unfortunately real. I've spent the last two hours sobbing from complete sadness and partially from joy, I think. This journey is so epic and confusing for me. I feel like I don't even completely understand everything that I am doing. It's almost as if others are explaining it to me along the way. I gain clarity through engaging others about Meghan’s impact. I learn about Meghan from hearing how she affected others and what she inspired them to do. She inspires me through other people to go on. Not being able to live out our lives together will always cause pain and guilt in my heart. Somehow though, Meghan is still letting me be with her. I'll be connected to her by doing these things she wanted for herself, and for us. I get to keep her close. I still get to experience her on some level.

The joy I have is from Meghan giving me a path She pointed me in the direction I'm supposed to go. I know in the very core of my being, every last fiber, that I'm supposed to be doing these things for her. I'm not meant to be sedentary. I have to keep going. Setting out is really scary, bone shakingly terrifying to the core. This all means that it's real. I'm scared that it's real. I don't want it. I miss her more than anything. I miss the best part of who I am.

Meghan has given me this amazing chance to go to the far corners of the world and find pieces of her everywhere. To examine these situations I'll be in and look for the meaning she would apply to them. To be touched at the most basic level by the love exchanged everywhere I go will no doubt alter me. The knowledge that she and her story are actively and continually evolving others and myself to live inspired lives as better and more giving people makes this worth it.
She knew l wouldn't be ok if I stayed in one place. She meant for me to leave broken and return changed.
I fly into Vancouver on July 31 to start the cross-Canada train trip. I’d like to hang out in Vancouver with some of you and possibly talk to local media about Meghan. Help if you can and thank you for what you’ve done to become part of this all so far.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Healing Through Helping

It really is comforting, satisfying, empowering etc to be able to talk about Meghan and what she means to this world. To share why I am determined to do all the things she wanted to do. I feel a lot of strength and healing through helping. I spent hours today talking to people, about how and why I no longer have a wife, about why I'm going to India in two months, about other's struggles with disease and about the advice I could offer when faced with something serious like breast cancer.  This time it was others crying and saying how unfair it is, how it doesn't make sense anymore. These are all things I think about regularly and it helps to hear and see this response. It feels like other people on some level understand, or are genuine in their effort to try to understand these processes I'm going through. It's not pity anymore, its empathy.

I want all of you to know that I, from the bottom of something deeper than my heart, appreciate every last bit you have done for us. This gives me strength and hopefully everyone else who is attached to Meghan. I want you to know that I will fight every bit as hard for these goals as Meghan did for them, because she deserves them. I want you to know that I am completely committed to putting in the very, very hard work for the seemingly unattainable goals (not unattainable for her, but really, I know a PHD seems a bit out of my league) . I know you won't let me fail. I know you won't let me back down from things that seem beyond my abilities. I know you will push me when I need it and when I don't. I know that by simply refusing to give up or give in I can come out on top. I have the best there is for a teacher. Meghan would absolutely be proud to know all of the people she has touched and those she has spurred on to greater things than they thought possible. She really is a hero.

To avoid confusion  want to outline how all of this will work. I don't want anyone to think I'm feeding off their donations and hanging out on someone else's dime.

Every single penny donated is going into the cause for each individual campaign. That means that everything above the budget for each place donated is going straight into the organization I am working for. Also included in this is money left over once the 3 month stint is finished.  The budget goals for India is $3000. If $4000 is donated, Merasi School is getting at least $1000. If I use less than $3000 during the 3 months, whatever is left over is also going to Merasi School. Your money funds my effort, not me. I am coming home after all of this with $0 in my pocket. I am not interested in profiting, I am interested in helping. If any of you don't want to donate money, but would rather donate similar effort, please come and help. India will probably get lonely.

After the five - three month segments I'm going to come back to Canada (hopefully) and enroll in a masters program, that is unless I can find a Phd program. I am hoping to take online classes while I'm gone to fufill neccesary prereq requirements. All of the documented volunteer work is going to show my intent and drive to succeed in obtaining the secondary degree.

I am halfway through the program to go from not running at all to running a 5k. Not a half marathon, I know, but baby steps. I've lost ten pounds and am definitely able to run/ walk 3 miles at this point.

The first book I read was Born To Run, obviously fitting, to get me motivated to run more and better. Its great, I highly recommend it.  Book two, I'm a hundred pages in and will finish before the 4th of July festivities. I can definitely finish 10 more books before decmeber.

The first instrument I'm trying to master is guitar. I have a pretty good basic understanding of it but again, slow progress. Nothing good and amazing comes without practice. The Merasi School is ALL about music, so I'm going to apply myself there to learning as much as I can from the folk musicians that are already teaching the kids.  I'm basically a 10 year old anyway.

Also, while there, I'm going to pick up as much Hindi and local dialect as possible. I'm pretty good with languages, I know I won't even come close to fluency, but learning languages helps learn other languages. (I'm half decent with Korean and Spanish already). This goal ties into the Phd. I'm going to go for linguistics. Language has always been something I've taken to and been interested in. I've tried to learn on my own, as for languages to be fluent in, I haven't decided yet.

The 3 months at five places will satisfy the living abroad in five countries, the goal of volunteering for over 100 hours and volunteering in an Indian orphanage. Its important to note that I'm not trying to check these things off like it's a checklist or a game. I need to do these things to learn. I don't understand that Meghan isn't here, I don't understand why. I need to do these things to understand more of her, to know what she was after by setting these goals. I want to understand what she was hoping to achieve by completing these. I need to see things she would've seen them. I want the experiences she wanted, so I might grasp hold of every little bit of her out there. I am very much in search of something that I don't fully understand or know

Monday, June 21, 2010


I really want to make sure that everyone feels involved in all of this. If I don’t know you already I would like to meet you at some point. I think everyone has a story to tell and there own reasons why Meghan affected them the way she did.
The way she dealt handled extreme difficulty, (seriously understating it) with grace, dignity and complete and raw honesty will forever change the way I handle things in my own life.

We are compiling this information to put together an article in the Toronto Star. I want to hear from you. I want to hear how she changed you, made you feel comfort or simply altered the way you think about disease.
Please, post comments, with your full name underneath. Email me at or Fabiola at

All of you are involved in one way or another and I appreciate the simple fact that you read Meghan’s words. Today is the longest day of the year; there is plenty of time today to do something impactful for others.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

work hard, be smart

The Current city is Chicago, which is great and different. You can bring your own beer to restaurants and your own food to bars. It’s bizarre and wonderful. Again, the notion of progress is at the front of my mind. Everyone has a different definition of that word and up until recently mine was a decision followed by immediate action. A complete lack of planning with everything depending on the process and the outcome was often not what I had hoped for.

Setbacks are surprisingly common with a lack of planning. For some reason I’ve been watching travel and adventure documentaries non-stop over the last two days (fine, I realize that link is pretty transparent and obvious,) and the lesson, the point, the rule that I keep coming to is that nothing of value comes to you easily or quickly. The culture I grew up in was one of trying to get as much as fast and as easily as possible. Work smart not hard.

It’s almost anti-human in a way. You spend your entire day sitting, often doing intangible work for pay that you never actually see. Everything is done via wire. Don’t get me wrong; I love technology, LOVE IT. I foam at the mouth every time Apple makes something new that promises to make me a better person. But I think I’ve lost the plot.

I’ve been missing out on a lot of learning because of a serious lack of exertion. Meghan completely understood the meaning of hard work. She understood what one gains from the amount of effort put in to something you don’t necessarily care about. The process is completely important. The struggle is where you find meaning and truth. Not the finish. Meghan never had a problem throwing herself into something that was difficult. She wouldn’t bat an eyelash at work. Real work. Real effort. Her mother told me about the time when she decided to go to University. She would come home from High School and spend the rest of the day at the dining room table pouring over textbooks to ensure her entry to the school of her choice. I spent high school taking naps and barbequing. Meghan graduated in four years from a difficult program at a great school. It took me six years, two schools and three different majors. I didn’t know what I wanted to do because I didn’t do any groundwork. And I get that now.

I’m becoming more comfortable making plans that are three months, six months and even a year out that I’m going to stick to and not waiver. I understand there is progress in a simple conversation with the founder and director of the Merasi School in India. I’m not leaving tomorrow or next week but I know that just talking to her and having a connection means something. Making a budget is progress. Running three times a week is progress. Talking to people about Meghan is progress. Knowing that Meghan would be happy with my progress is progress. Continually learning from Meghan is progress. Thank you, Meghan, for being the biggest and best part of my life. I will be eternally grateful for all of the lessons and the life to come.

Further proof that Meghan was dedicated to her work; this past saturday, June 12, 2010, Meghan was awarded the Personal Support Worker Certificate posthumously for the program she was enrolled in last winter. There was never a question she would have finished at the top of her class. As her father walked across the stage to accept her certificate, Mr. Baker and Meghan were met with thunderous applause from the thousands in the arena.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Worry Not


I’m having a lot of trouble slowing down or not doing anything. I don't like not having plans and things to look forward to. I don't like being sedentary; I don't like having to wait. I think I'm scared of being alone with my thoughts and having too much time to sit and think about everything. I’m pretty scared of what's in my head and I think I try to distract myself as much as possible from it. June and July are scary for that reason. I don't really have that much going on in either. I have a lot of waiting to do and a lot of alone time coming up. I’m not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I’m not sure if its good for me to sit, just sit, and think and let all of these memories and thoughts come. I don't really dream so its not Iike my subconscious is processing anything at night. I’m scared to sort things out, knowing that I'm sorting things out. I don't want to process Meghan. I don't want to lose any of it or move on or leave parts of her behind. I’m ok with talking about her, I don't get choked up or overly sad when I talk about who she is to me and what happened to her. I’m ok with that. I just get upset at the notion of forgetting. I don't have an outlet anymore.

She was my subconscious. She was how I worked through everything every day. She was that voice in the back of my head telling me I'm an idiot for wasting money on really dumb things (anything with flashing lights or buttons.) She was the first person I went to when trying to make nearly every decision. It feels like half of my thought process is missing. Like we finished the puzzle together. THE puzzle. Now half of that puzzle with it's crazy intricate pieces that could only fit in exactly one way is gone. I can’t redo that puzzle. I cant push other pieces in its place or make them fit. Even if I could I don’t want to.
Honestly, I don't know what to do. I don't know how to make myself better. Half of the time I don't want to be better. I know she would handle this a lot better. We all know how strong she could be. She would be there for other people and make sure they’re taken care of. She would be the last person she’d worry about.

Maybe this is my subconscious working. Maybe I know without knowing? Not ten minutes after she passed away I knew I had to finish her goals. And I think I knew that not so much because they were her goals but because of what they were. Almost all of them are altruistic. She knew that. She knew that there is a lot of personal gain in serving others. She knew that there's a lot of time, alone time, on a train across Canada. She knew there is a lot of love and support exchanged equally from doing things with her friends. She knew there is much wisdom to be gained through reading and teaching one's self new things. All of these goals, things, and steps along the way are keeping her memory alive and helping me to process the loss of her.

a friend wrote this in response to my editing request which I thought was especially helpful and real and honest:

Of course this makes sense! It's hard not to feel like you're repeating yourself when your mind is constantly on.... on replay, re-do, reject... rewind. There's this sense of undo... to allow yourself unwind, but the fear that that will take place in the most literal sense. That sense that if you do finally stop, even if for a second, you will just come undone.
The momentum of this project and the idea of pressing on with what would make Meghan proud is an extreme momentum. But like anything else in the world, there is no constant forward. There is always a lull ans always a moment of reflection and doubt to wade through, to get to the next froward step. You are making great strides, both in this project and in your personal grief. I'm sure Meghan is seeing you in the same light she always has and I'm sure she's impressed. How could she not be? Sure, she may have handled the flip side of all of this differently, but she has given you such vision that this is not something you would have thought of doing if it weren't for her. You can't blame yourself for not responding to all of this the way she would have. You are YOU and that's why she loves you. I know it isn't much comfort, but this IS a really epic way of handling your loss and the LAST thing it will do is push her memory further away. If anything it keeps her closer to you than your own skin. You seem to have a better grip on what her mindset would be than your own. It's terrifying, the idea of "letting go", like to do so would force you to feel all this all over again. When we allow ourselves to fall so deep in love, it's hard to see anything else. When it goes, it's much like losing limbs, your heart and having a stroke all within a painfully real dream. There's a fuzzy quality to it all, no matter how bad it hurts or how bitter it tastes.
It's ok to have things to run to, as long as you ensure that you're not running away. I know the idea of being still causes a lot of anxiety, like there's a wave the size of a skyscraper waiting to crush you as soon as you stop. The talking is the easy part. You say the words so many times they start to feel scripted, like someone else wrote it and you're just here to recite it..... hackneyed, over-used and distant. Most of the time I can talk about my step-dad without crying, in fact, I laugh a lot and have almost always been able to. There's something about telling the story, sharing that makes it bearable. Like if you say it over and over than the whole experience loses power. I think that a lot of the mourning we go through is mourning the future and all the plans we had. That stuff is so big and border-less it's hard not to miss it, even if we never had it to begin with. This is why we set ourselves up to look forward to new things. Trips, plans, projects.... it helps us see a new future. It's fine to do these things, as long as you know that they are only band-aids for the grief that will still come in the quietest hours.
You dream whether you know it or not. But your mind is quick to smooth away the things you have told it you're not ready for. You don't have to let her go, ever. No one would ever ask that of you. Don't be scared of what you might hear or feel when you're alone. Although, you need to be able to remind yourself that the darkest things you feel are not nearly as heavy as the weight of what Meghan means to you and how this project will keep her as big and as bright as she's always been. It's only in the darkest nights that the brightest lights can be seen.
THE puzzle. You have to remember that we don't always know what the puzzle is until it's finished. Meghan is a huge portion of your puzzle, but not the only portion of it. Nothing else is MEANT to fill that space. There's a whole other side that waits to be finished and everything you're doing is going to help you find the rest. There are so many places to go and people to meet and people to help. There are drinks and laughter, too. You said before that you thought your relationship with Meghan was mostly to your benefit and maybe this is all just another way for her to help you. Sometimes people help us feel stronger, more complete and safe. Like we'd never met ourselves before and like we couldn't go on without them. But sometimes, they come into our lives to help us see that we'd been that strong, complete and safe all along. They help us see life for the beauty that it is, even if it seems like the shine has worn off a bit once they've gone.
I wish I could streamline this for you. Make it easier or clearer. But it seems to me that Meghan would remind you that there is a lesson in all of this. I know it all weighs a million pounds even if the whole experience if full of holes. So lift what you can and remind yourself that the higher you lift it, the more all the excess will pour through it like a sieve. I know you don't want to get through it sometimes and that's because in all of this, your grief is your own. There are a lot of things on your future, some things you can control and a lot you can't. So let it come. Let pass through you too. The less resistance you have, the more easily it starts to make sense. The worst has already happened, there's nothing else to fear.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Travel Budget

lemme know if this looks ok, if you have ideas for it, if something doesn't look right or if you want the excel file to change it all around! I want your input! this is very, very, very rough draft

Monday, June 7, 2010


The big update for today is the list of all the things we've accomplished in the past 6 weeks. It amazes me to see a community continue to come together and grow because they believe so strongly in who Meghan was and what she stood for.

In the last six weeks we've:

-Grown by 50% as a community.
-We have a press release that has been sent out to news agencies worldwide.
-This week we will have a website up to use as a central location.
-We're building a Wikipedia page.
-Enhanced our social-media experience.
-Been interviewed by several worldwide publications.
-Sold out completely of our promotional material.
-Raised over $6000 to complete Meghan's goals and raised an
accompanying $6000+ for cancer advocacy groups (Kelly shires
foundations, Susan G. Komen etc.)

And the really exciting stuff:

-We are going to be filming a documentary about Meghan's life and me
finishing her goals.
-I've finished one of the twelve books I have to read this year.
-Joanna and I went hiking in Short Hills this past week, which I apparently forgot to add to Meghan's list of goals.(pictures at the bottom)
-I am about 1/4 the way to running a 5k, which is 1/4 the way to running a half marathon...that one is definitely still in progress but I've been running every other day.
-The baseball game and Canada's wonderland are happening later this summer.
-In August I'll be taking the train across Canada.
-AAAND Im going to India this September to kick off my volunteer trip. I'll be in Rajasthan, India working at the Merasi school for 3 months. (

I feel like I've forgotten a lot of things, I guess that's what the comment section is for, right?

This is the part where I want to extend a huge thanks to all of you. Thank you for recognizing Meghan as the light she continues to be. Thank you for feeling something from her honest words. Thank you for being affected by her hope. Press on knowing that you are part of something much bigger than all of us. The sum of our parts will add up to be more than any of us could have imagined. Continue to talk about Meghan, tell her story and convey why she means what she does to all
of us in different ways.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


DC was a different kind of fear altogether. I was scared to go to all those places that Meghan and I had been together. I was scared of how it would feel to be somewhere that both of us considered home. There were so, so many things that she and I did and had to do every time we visited. Traditions. I was scared to see all of our friends and of how I would feel not having Meghan next to me, scared of what it would be like to not be Meghan and Adam anymore. Just Adam.
I think it's safe to say we're all afraid to be alone. And I'm definitely one of the lucky ones to have found what I had. Meghan made me feel whole. She taught me a lot about being strong for yourself and by yourself. I know I'll be ok because of her. I know I'll make something out of all of this. I know all of us will. It means so much to Meghan's parents, friends and myself to hear how she affected and is still affecting others in such a significant way.
We have made progress and a substantial amount at that. It's because of you, because of what Meghan means to you. DC was progress because it was sad, it was hard, and it was fun.

Meghan doesn't want me to be afraid to go home. She wants me to face my fears, she wants me to deal with difficult things head on. She wants me to go into our old haunts, hug friends and know they want to help and help me get better. They miss her just as much as I do. No one grows staying at home being depressed. She constantly pushed me to be better, to be more, to be inspired and I felt that going back home to DC. I felt her there telling me this is helping, through hurting.
- Adam

Monday, May 31, 2010

New York.

I was really excited to get to New York. It felt entirely different than any of the last times I visited. It felt like the start of my journey, like the start of all of these important goals that I have to finish for Meghan. I didn't at all feel ready for any of it.
When I took my first opportunity to talk about Meghan, or what I am doing because of her, I got choked up and scared. I encountered a problem I was unprepared for. Being scared to talk about Meghan. It's scary admitting to people, yourself, and the world that your wife is gone.
I didn't want any of it to be real. I didn't want to be traveling because of Meghan, I didn't want to be trying to finish her goals, deciding how many countries to go to alone, which places to volunteer at, which places it was ok to have fun in. I didn't want to be doing anything without her.
I forced myself to talk to a stranger at the bar that night about the the trip and I remember seeing pity in his eyes. It was an awful feeling knowing he was looking at me like I was one of "those" people. I was forced into this club of people who have felt tragedy. I am now one of those people that is referred to as 'poor' before my name in conversation. I don't want that. I want no part of it. Partly because it means that Meghan isn't with me anymore and partly because I hate pity. Meghan disliked people apologizing for what she was going through.
It's ok to empathize with her. It's ok to feel bad for her and her family. But please don't let that horrible incident define us. It is absolutely not what defined Meghan. Her cancer was the least important part of her life. How she lived it is what's important. Meghan dying is not what defines me. It is our life together thats more important, it's who she made me and how I am living now because of her influence.
New York is where it was decided that I would narrow down the volunteer project to five countries. Five, because Meghan wanted to live in five different countries. Each segment will last roughly three months and in between volunteer destinations I'll be visiting the countries in between to get to the twenty-three countries Meghan had left to visit.
New York was an eye-opener. I had no idea what I was in for. Being alone is scary, talking about why you're alone is scary. Trying to convince people to not feel bad for you and believe in what you're doing is scary. This is a lot bigger of a deal than I thought and I continue to find strength knowing it is what Meghan would have wanted.

- Adam

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Live On The Top

When Meghan was re-diagnosed earlier this year, her nurse told her something that I think is a great way of dealing with difficult subjects. She said "We know you have cancer. We know what it will ultimately do to you.  We know it's there and we're going to put it in the closet and move on. Its not going anywhere but its not doing anyone any good dwelling on it. Continue living as much and as well as you can and we'll deal with things as they come"
Being sad is the same way. Just being sad is nothing close to what Meghan went through but it still has negative effects on your outlook and day to day life. There are plenty of days I don't want to get out bed or get dressed or go see people and so on. We know the sadness is there. I know it will always be part of my life to feel horrible for not having Meghan here but being sad doesn't accomplish things. We have to put the sadness
somewhere else, know it's there but not let it have any control. Deal with it when it comes but know you will keep going.
Every time Meghan got negative feedback about her condition, I felt like I was being pummeled by a giant with a lead pipe. I know it was worse for Meghan. Somehow though, and you all know this too, she found a way to get back up and keep moving forward. She felt that what she was dealing with was important enough to share and document and she never let that depression beat her. Ever. She spent a lot of her time and effort making others feel better about what she was going through because she was incredibly strong, and wanted to show others that dealing with cancer in a positive way is completely possible.  She injected that spirit into so many of us and her words won't stop helping and inspiring others as long as I'm around.  
Meghan's legacy is one of hope, strength, battle, independence and will-power in the most pure and intense form I've yet seen. She had the worst luck I know of and she still
managed to get the things she wanted, every time. She fought tooth and nail until she had the answer she was after. Her hope with her writing was that anyone could derive a similar strength from her words and continue on in spite of their circumstances. To prove that no matter what, and even in death, people can still succeed with their goals.
This continues to be most confusing period in my life but I know that Meghan set me on a path that I won't veer from until I'm finished. Because of her. Because of her determination, her drive, her spirit, because she deserves everything she ever wanted to do or see. My hope, in addition to sharing her story, is to spread this message; when a community unites, so, so much can get accomplished.
There is a massive network of friends and friends of friends that can help the less fortunate in every corner of the earth.  We can all make a difference and an impact, at home or abroad. Because of loved ones or in spite of the bad hand you've been dealt. Being depressed, hurt or upset doesn't get things done. Wipe the blood off your face, bandage your wounds, get up, do better and do more, every time.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


It's hard for me to define if I'm making any progress or not. Meetings fall through, decisions aren't being made and I just feel tired all the time. I can't figure out a linear path for this project. It's
like every thought represents a line in my head and not single one is going in the same direction as another. Everything is infinitely more confusing than a month ago. I want to make this awesome for her. I want her to be proud. I want her to always be remembered and held in high regard.

I've decided to narrow down my approach to the service project. I'm
going to go to five places and spend three months at each location. I feel like
I'll be able to make more of an impact and better connections if I'm there for a substantial period of time. I've narrowed the countries/ areas down to Australia, India, Central/South America, Tanzania/ Kenya/ Rwanda area and Poland. I need to get in touch with actual schools, orphanages or farms, any project in these countries that needs assistance. Im looking to start putting the dates together and I need your help with finding people
that I can help. If you have connections in these countries, put me in touch with an actual person. I'd like to flesh these out so I can figure out a trip budget and more precise timeline for the trip.

Lastly, I'm worried that people aren't talking because they're afraid to. They don't know the "right" thing to say so they don't say anything. I need your help and communication. There is no right thing to say or feel, at all. None of this is right and it will never be right or just or OK that Meghan is gone. There will never be a right way to go about grieving for someone, no correct timeline, no correct magic word to make pain go away.

The five or ten or eighty steps to happiness or completion or whatever are complete garbage. You do things that make you feel better. You enjoy the good times when they happen and remember what it is about Meghan that makes you happy or feel stronger or better. Please, talk. Communicate. It doesn't matter
what you say as long as you are honest.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Not Deciding is Deciding

It's hard doing things that are fun without Meghan being a part of them.
For every pleasurable part of this weekend, I wished she was here. Progress
being made for the service project is satisfying but I still feel
guilty for enjoying myself. I know that there is no right or wrong way
to grieve nor no correct length of time one needs to be upset with the
loss. When is it ok to have fun? When is it ok to be active?

We always wanted to live in a big city and New York would've blown
Meghan's mind. She would have had an absolute blast exploring the city and
finding new restaurants. A group of our friends and myself spent the entire day yesterday walking around and I imagined how she would have reacted to the amazing houses, the street fairs, noises, the park and gardens, as well as her place in our
conversations. Which person would she have chosen to talk to? What would they have talked about?

It was really hard yesterday. It definitely feels great to get
away but I'm half afraid I'll abandon dealing with losing Meghan and
try to pretend that I'm not sad or deal with the fact that the best part of my life is now gone. Meghan always made me deal with things. She always forced me
to talk about difficult stuff and wouldn't let me off the hook until I
had resolved the issue verbally, mentally and/or physically.

I'm really glad that what I'm doing is about Meghan and that I'm forced
to talk about her and deal with her loss every time I explain to
someone new what my trip is about. In a way it's almost like Meghan is
again forcing me to deal with this. She won't let me bottle all of
this up and slink off into a hermit-like oblivion. She wants me to
make something of myself. She wants me to be social and enjoy new
things and to actually deal with losing her. I will never ever
understand how any of this was fair to her or how she was so positive
and comforting for others. I will never forget her, her spirit or her
fight. She wants me to move forward. She wants me to decide to do
meaningful things and then to follow through and finish them.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Impact of Volunteering

"Everybody can be great because everybody can serve."

—Martin Luther King, Jr.

My goal is to pass along Meghans spirit, I want those who haven't yet been touched by her story to understand what she means to this world. I want to inspire others to pick up where their passed loved ones left off. Finish things set out for them. Move forward. Make an impact. 
I don't think that anyone would argue the benefits of volunteer service both for the volunteer and the recipient of that service. It strengthens community, there are health benefits for the individual and it leaves a lasting impact on the lives of those involved. 

In a report released by United Healthcare and Volunteer Match, they found that;

-More than 68% of those who volunteered in the past year report that volunteering made them feel physically healthier.
-29% of volunteers who suffer from a chronic condition say that volunteering has helped them manage their chronic illness.
-89% of volunteers agree that volunteering improved their sense of well-being.
-73% of volunteers feel that volunteering lowered their stress levels.
-92% of volunteers agree that volunteering enriches their sense of purpose in life.
-More than three-quarters of volunteers who participate in service activities through work report that they feel better about their employer because of the employer’s involvement in their volunteer activities.

Volunteer work is an excellent method of making positive gains for yourself both physically and mentally. You become part of something. There are tangible results to your work. The intangible results are the things you learn about yourself and your community. You Improve yourself.

Meghan had very clear and distinct goals that were all are centered around self improvement and learning through service. Whether it was forcing herself in front of her peers to teach, move to a completely foreign place or get to a certain level or aerobic health, Meghan was hell-bent on self-improvement. Which is something I think everyone needs a dose of now and again. Raw determination to get what you want and where you want to be.  

I was fortunate to have more than a dose (7:30 wake up calls to go to the gym may qualify as unfortunate or an overdose,) and plan to do all I can with that massive(and often forced) injection of sheer will-power. I am going to travel to 23 countries because Meghan would have. I am going to run a half marathon because Meghan would have. I am going to volunteer in an Indian orphanage because Meghan would have. I am going to inspire you to get what you want because Meghan would have. She already has for so many. 
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