Has it really been a week since I was sitting at the ACM in Philly?
The evening before I left, I was finishing up printing off signs to hang in the PJ's when Bre came into the office and handed me a picture.
A picture of the two of us, outside in the garden - her favorite place in the world.
She promptly told me that it was a picture for me to take on my 'field trip' so I wouldn't miss her.
My baby really is a special kind of special.
She loves fiercely and with her whole heart.
Once I got to the airport, I had to stock up on a few favorites: Redbook, Banana Nut Bread, and a Chai Tea. Which was, of course, accompanied with the need for some extra insulin, but well worth it!
Later that evening, I was FT'ing Bill and the girls when Bre asked if I got the other picture she made me. Bill promptly told me to check my bag. I did, and pulled out a picture with a pink ribbon on it.
I took a lot to hold back the tears. Tears of love for the sweet little girl who wants her Mommy to know she is loved and for my husband for sneaking it into my bag as a surprise. That's just the kind of man he is.
Did I mention I was the Co-Captain for Lunch Services this year?
When Lauri contacted me about taking it on, quite frankly, I was questioning what I was getting myself into. I had never walked that city and seen the lunch set up, let alone co-captained anything quite as important as setting up and feeding 1200 people for 3 days straight!
But I knew she'd take me under her wing, and all would be fine.
(Me, Nicole, Lauri, Matt)
I walked with Lauri and her husband, Matt, in Atlanta in 2011. LOVE THEM!
And Nicole....I want to be just like her when I grow up. She's the 'BIG BANANA!' for crying out loud.
After our ACM we met up with 100+ other crew members and had dinner at an Ale House close to our host hotel.
Opening ceremony. Can you guess what our lunch theme was?!?!
50's, of course.
I wonder how many people have read this sign and never noticed sandwich is misspelled.
Nevertheless, it gives us a good chuckle.
I've been on the receiving end of getting that Panera sandwich 10+ miles into your 20+ mile walk, and let me tell you, a turkey sandwich never tasted so good.
I spy a banana!
Our fabulous lunch crew.
Most of this crew are lunch veterans. I was truly amazed by how well the veterans took the rookies under their wing, showed them the ropes, and seeing the end result....A UNIFIED TEAM!
THE LARRY ROSHFELD (of the 60 mile men and The Underground Guide) was on my crew.
He may have tried to claim me as his daughter....until he realized how old I am (Thanks again, Larry, for knocking a decade off my age. HA!) and promptly changed my status to 'his niece'.
Norma Jane (no, that's not a misspelling. She's Jane!) transformed into Marilyn on Day 3 and was a huge hit.
Among all the other amazing moments in Philly, I had the privilege of honoring the woman who walked by my side in Tampa, a year ago. The one who was taken from us too soon, but who we will carry with us until there is an end to this awful disease.
We will honor you, ONE STEP AT A TIME, GLORIA!
This year I made the decision to walk into closing with my team...not as a survivor. Watching that sea of pink walk in was breath-taking.
After closing, Nicole, Larry, and I said our 'C-ya Later's' to the team and made our way to the airport.
When Nicole walked away towards her terminal, I shed a few tears. These people are not only my close friends, they've become a part of my family.
My life is truly better because of each and every one of them.
I got to my terminal, found a seat, and the sparkle of my ring caught my eye.
I'm not sure I'll ever get over starring at these rings. The representation of our family of five means everything to me.
It was a perfect weekend, but I couldn't wait to get home to these smiling faces.
In true Bill fashion, he and the girls surprised me with a clean house (including bathrooms!), a freshly made bed to climb into, a prepared meal to heat up for lunch the next day, and A SHOWER of hugs and kisses.
I really don't know how I got so lucky.