Akron Art Museum

I've just received confirmation that these photographs of Jennifer have been added to the permanent collection of The Akron Art Museum. This is an honor I have never dreamed of and I cannot begin to explain the feelings in my heart. I miss Jennifer with every bit of my soul. 

All of my thanks to Arnold Tunstall for his work in getting my photographs into this collection. 

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Just be there

Can't believe I made this photo 2 years ago today...it feels like our friends were just sitting in our apartment pampering Jen. 
I know it's difficult to know what to do for someone who is facing cancer, but just being there makes a huge difference. Jen was sick but she was still alive; she still wanted to be treated like "Jen."

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Those eyes...

Over the last few days I've found myself thinking about Jen in a different way. I think at times everything that is happening with our story forms a protective shield around me, a type of barrier. Some times reality gets through and it stops me in my tracks. Last night I thought about the look Jen used to give me when she wanted to melt my heart...this look. I miss Jen's big brown eyes. 

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Dragon boat

After her mastectomy in 2008 Jennifer was diagnosed with Lymphedema. Jen heard about dragon boat racing from my sister-in-law and found out that this was great exercise to combat her condition. So, Jen co-founded a dragon boat team consisting of all women cancer survivors. 

 Jen always looked for the good in even the darkest of times.
 

Laughter

My dad is a 20 year lung cancer survivor. And he's a joker. At my parent's 60th wedding anniversary he told Jen to get her wigs and they posed for this portrait. He wore the wig so well that my mom, who was standing about 40 feet away told one of my sisters, "I'm not sure who that woman is over there but she keeps smiling at me." 

Laughter, indeed, is a wonderful medicine. 

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Brighter every day

I remember flying to Manhattan on October 3rd, 2006, with an engagement ring in my pocket. Jen said "yes," and then we hailed a cab and  headed to - our - new home.  

Now I look at this nearly finished book and it sinks in that Jen passed, that this is real, and that I have to keep moving forward.  

Some days I feel strong; some days I fear the wind will blow me away. But, those windy days come less and less while my memories of Jen grow stronger and brighter. 

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Be good to each other

Last night after celebrating their birthdays my mom was looking at photographs from my parent's trip to Italy in 1991. She asked my dad if he remembered the names of the people in one of the photos. Dad responded with names, paused, then said, "They were good to us." Mom agreed. 

I felt like they were passing on 86 & 85 years worth of how to live - "Be good to each other." 

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Yoga

From the beginning of our relationship Jennifer told me I should try yoga. "I promise you'll love it," she would tell me. It took a few years but I finally gave it a try. We were at a yoga retreat and Jen was right, it was incredible.

For the next few months our friend Kendra, a yoga instructor, would come to our apartment and we would have a private session. Some days Kendra would put us in restorative positions. Jen and I would hold hands while our body and mind slowed down. I still can feel Jen's hand in mine.

Yesterday my sister Mary Ann signed the two of us up for a yoga class. It was very emotional, Jen was with me the entire time. At the end of the practice I felt a calm that has been missing since Jen passed.

Another gift from Jennifer. 

 

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College graduate

In 2010, not long after her cancer metastasized, Jen walked across the stage and received her diploma. Jen worked so hard to finish school - Marriage, full-time job and oh yeah, cancer. I was so proud of her. 

When I start to get overwhelmed I think about this and I reach deeper inside to find the strength to keep going. 

Jen NEVER gave  up.

 

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