Long Beach

I’ve been feeling rather nostalgic lately so you can expect to read about some defining moments of my life over the next few months. I’m not so sure today’s post actually counts as a defining moment, but the memory signifies a major turning point in my life.

Two years ago at this time Todd and I were in Long Beach, California. He had a conference there and I tagged along as I often did with his business trips. Todd had flown to Chicago the previous Sunday, taking with him only a carry on bag for his one day meeting on Monday. The plan was I’d bring the rest of his clothes with me since I’d be needing the big suitcase anyway. Our flights met in Salt Lake City Tuesday and then we flew to Long Beach together.

It wasn’t until we got to the hotel that I realized I had completely forgotten all his clothes – the business clothes he was going to need for three days of meetings. I don’t know why I laugh in these situations, knowing he’s going to be less than pleased. But I do, and I did, and the more I laughed I think the angrier he got, which only made me laugh harder. So we walked for literally miles, looking for some type of clothing store. The only one we found was a West Coast Chopper’s store and he didn’t think leather pants would be appropriate. Turns out if we’d only turned right at the corner we would have run into all kinds of shops within a block of the hotel. It all turned out fine and he ended up with some nice new clothes. So I think I actually did him a favor.

Thursday was St. Patrick’s Day and we took my very Irish friend, Sheila, out to dinner and had a wonderful time. Friday evening we had dinner with other friends, John and Cathy, laughed until we cried, walked around Long Beach and saw one of the dumbest movies I think I’ve ever seen (Constantine). Saturday was another day of hanging out with John and Cathy and their three beautiful girls and Sunday we flew back home.

It was a great trip, a carefree time, and the memory will forever be precious to me. We had no idea that the following week would set things in motion that would drastically change our lives. Two life-altering events that were completely separate yet have become one experience to my mind.

It’s hard for me to describe the feeling of frenzy that happened after that. It was like being caught in a whirlwind and before we could jump out and calm down we were picked up by a devastating tornado, spinning us in two different directions.

Week 1 – Todd is given the opportunity to interview with a similar-type company near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

Week 2 – Todd interviews with the company in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

Week 3 – Todd and I both fly to Pennsylvania to get an idea of whether or not we’d even want to move there.

Week 4 – I have my yearly gynecological appointment and a lump in my left breast that needs checking.

Week 5 – Todd accepts the new job and resigns the old job.

Week 5 – I’m diagnosed with breast cancer.

Week 6 – I have a left mastectomy.

Week 8 – Todd moves to Pennsylvania.

Week 10 – I start chemotherapy.

Our trip to Long Beach had absolutely nothing to do with these things, but in my mind I view it as the last page in an easy and nearly perfect chapter of our lives. Sort of that last deep breath before you plunge into the frigid water, but at least then you know what you’re about to get yourself into.

There were times when I thought we were spinning out of control, and I suppose we were. But that was okay because even then we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God WAS in control. And I see our little getaway to Long Beach – visiting with good friends we don’t see often; several hours of responsibility-free solitude to read; time to reconnect as a husband and wife, not a mom and dad – as a gift. Like a last little vacation before starting a new and grueling job. And THAT’S why the memory of such a seemingly insignificant trip means so much to me.


  1. Katybug on March 19, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    Thank you for sharing your precious memories! You have such a way with words. And it truly does sound like the Lord arranged things in such a way that you two could have some connecting time together in the calm before the storm. It’s always good to look back and see how He’s been working, often without us even noticing. Great story. 🙂

  2. Trish on March 19, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    Wow, what a great story…And, hey…I see you linked me. Thanks…I will do the same:)

  3. Em on March 19, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    The Long Beach story is great. Who says leather pants can’t be business wear?? LOLBut then the next 10 weeks…what a roller coaster of events and emotions.

  4. radioactive girl on March 19, 2007 at 8:47 pm

    I have the same feeling about things that were totally unrelated to the actual cancer, but are forever connected in my brain. I love that you shared this!

  5. Swishy on March 19, 2007 at 11:06 pm

    It’s funny, isn’t it, how life unfolds sometimes? I love how you refer to the trip as the last page in the chapter. Here’s to lots more nearly perfect chapters 🙂

  6. Dorky Dad on March 19, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    I think it’s interesting how an unrelated event can trigger that kind of an association, simply based on its timing.

  7. Jen on March 20, 2007 at 12:15 am

    What a sweet story! *sniff* I am off to find a tissue 🙂 (That is my favorite kind of story btw, sweet and touching)

  8. ~debbie~ on March 20, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    Three years ago Feb. 2004 I found a lump, stage 3 breast cancer, 8 rounds of chemo, 35 radiation treatment. Not only did you get caught into a whirlpool but add chemo brain to it makes the memories very hazy. I’ve been cancer free for 3 years now, getting ready for the annual bi-yearly mammogram and blood test. I bet your husband gets a silly grin thinking of the you forgot his clothes, mine was my rock during my active membership into the Chemo Club. I was excited this week because I am now a Chemo Angel, while going through the chemo I had 2 that sent cards and little goodies each time I had a chemo treatment. Now I can return the favor to another chemo patient. Good luck, much happiness and health to you and yours.

  9. Slackermommy on March 21, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    What a great story! Those kinds of getaways are so important to a marriage.

  10. Sheila on March 21, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    Jen,Your story about the Long Beach trip had me in tears. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of that memory. I know we can create new ones in the future… but I completely understand how special that time must be given all you have gone through since. LoveSheila

  11. The Book Girl, A.K.A. Jodi on March 23, 2007 at 11:05 pm

    I was reading The Beatitudes yesterday and this made me think of the first few scriptures “God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.” How wonderful for you…knowing He is in control is a powerful thing.

  12. Jenster on March 24, 2007 at 9:21 am

    Beautifully said, Jodi. :o)

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