If you are someone who has followed my blog from the beginning – or the end – as it’s known in my heart – you are probably aware of what “Pay it Forward for Don Shepherd Day” is. If you are a newer reader, then you can jump on board the kindness train this year, and participate, for the 2nd Annual Pay it Forward for Don Day, otherwise known as July 13th, otherwise known as the day my husband died.
Yes, this Saturday will be exactly 2 years since his sudden and life-changing death. I will be honest (because I am always honest, so why stop now?) – I am having a really rough time lately. After returning from a full, beautiful, harmonious, meaningful, and healing week in San Diego where I performed at Camp Widow for my second time this year, (more on that in my next blog post – give me about a week or so to collect my thoughts), I am finding it rather exhausting and difficult and depressing to come home to ugly Flushing, Queens, where I don’t share a home with my husband, and where I continue to exist in this new life without my best friend and soulmate. Plus, the weather has been disgustingly nasty hot all week here, and it is the exact same weather that surrounded all the days and weeks around his death, funeral, and everything in between. I have always hated hot and humid summers in NYC – but since my husband’s death, hate doesn’t seem to be a strong enough word to cover the way I feel about this horrible, stomach-churning heat. It feels as if all of my sorrow and all of my loss and pain is being held inside of each hot, clammy, humid hour that passes.
Summer makes me crazy-sad. It is a whole new level of sad, really. It is the kind of sad that seems to worsen with the passage of time in this new reality. Seems like everyone around me is talking about their family vacations, weddings, graduations, parties, and cookouts and barbeques. The 4th of July means fireworks and burgers for most people. For me, it means the last real memory I can conjur up of my husband before his death one week later. It means torturing myself for deciding not to stay home with him that night, but instead, going to my friend’s house alone for her cookout and fireworks. He was tired and wanted to stay home. If only I knew he would be gone forever just 9 days later. If only he showed some sort of symptom, other than being tired from working two jobs. If only, if only, if only …….
This Friday night, I put together an evening with some of our friends to celebrate him here in NY. We will go watch the sunset, which is supposed to be visible inside the grids of NYC this weekend, and then we will have a nice dinner at Carmine’s, which was one of our very favorite restaurants here. On Saturday, the anniversary of his death, I will go home to mom and dad’s in Massachusetts, and mom will make some of Don’s favorite foods for dinner and dessert. Some friends and family are coming over, and we will just have a nice, relaxing night of good food and hopefully some laughs. And then, of course, there is the Pay it Forward, which I began last year, at the suggestion of my awesome grief counselor, who told me: “On that day, do something that honors who he was.” The idea is simple. On July 13th, do something kind for somebody. Anybody. Friend. Stranger. Something huge. Something small. Doesn’t matter. Just do something, and do it in Don Shepherd’s name. Then write me and tell me about what you did. Post it on my Facebook Wall or send me an email (email@example.com) or leave it in the comments here in this blog post. Include pictures if you can. All of your pay it forward stories will appear in this blogsite, in a future post, sometime next week. The most creative ones will go into a chapter in my book, which I hope to have finished and published somehow, sometime in 2014. Here is a bit more about “Pay it Forward:” ……..
Last year, over 130 people took part in Pay it Forward Day, many of them total strangers or internet friends. This year, I hope to shatter that record and get the idea out to even MORE people, and hear even more stories. Last year, your stories and your acts of kindness on behalf of my husband, changed the entire energy of that awful, horrible day. It was still an incredibly sad day for me, and always will be, but I started looking forward to getting online to read the next story someone had posted – the next creative thing that someone came up with to do, in an act of total kindness. It was something that began as a way to get me through the day – and it has turned into so much more. It has turned into hundreds of tiny miracles, from hundreds of wonderful people. It is inspiring what the human spirit can accomplish, in the midst of so much pain.
There are many , many things you can do on this day. Some people prefer acts of kindness, others prefer to make donations somewhere. If you would like to donate to something in my husbands honor, a few suggestions of things/places that mean tons to him/us would include:
My friend , and legendary comedian and activist Elayne Boosler, runs an amazing animal foundation www.tailsofjoy.net
Lastly, you can make a donation to my blogsite, www.ripthelifeiknew.
Please, if you make a donation to any of these above places or another place of your choice, comment on their notes somewhere that it’s for PAY IT FORWARD FOR DON SHEPHERD DAY, so that they know and I know what has been donated as a result of this day. Please know that making a donation is only ONE way of participating. Many people did MANY other things that did not cost them one penny. It is all up to you – that’s the fun of it. Read some of the stories from last year’s blog to give yourself some ideas.
July 13th is just one week away. You have one week to start thinking about how YOU want to pay it forward for Don. Don’t forget to post somewhere to me, in writing and pictures if possible, what you did. The best part of this day is hearing all the incredible stories from people of all walks of life, coming together in love and remembrance. I can’t wait to hear your stories, and I hope that some of you will take part in this magical idea, that really is the best tribute I can think of to demonstrate exactly who my husband was, and always will be.