Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Toronto this morning to stand shoulder-to-shoulder at a rally for the March For Our Lives movement.
The march was created by a group of resilient teenagers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On February 14th, a 19 year-old former student opened fire in the school, killing 17 students and teachers.
This group came together immediately to demand stricter gun control by the federal government. Student organizers planned the march in collaboration with the non-profit organization, Everytown for Gun Safety.
March For Our Lives started as a demonstration in Washington, DC on March 24, and grew to over 830 marches around the world.
Hundreds of people attended the event at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square, also known as City Hall. They came from all walks of life, carrying handmade signs and banners, wearing buttons and t-shirts with hand-painted slogans.
Thousands campaigned on The Mall in Washington, DC., with approximately one million marching across the US. It has been reported that not since the Vietnam war has there been such a massive demonstration in the United States.
At the Nathan Phillips march, I spoke with two women. One held a sign that read, “Dying Should Not Be The Default” while the other’s read, “MSD Strong”. When asked why they came to the march, one told me that it was because of a personal connection to the cause.
“My niece attends Marjory Stoneman Douglas and she was there the day of the shootings,” she said. “She is only 17 years old and I’m here to support her.”
A family I spoke with told me that they came up from Parkland to attend the rally in Toronto. They laughed about the temperature difference but wanted to come here to walk with their Canadian family.
Amongst the music, singing, chanting and drum beating, there was one underlying message. Change needs to happen now.
Easter is only a few weeks away. Being early this year, it will most likely be cold. April 1 in Toronto tends to be that way.
About six years ago, around this time of year, I planted a pussy willow tree in my garden. It started off as a stick, roughly 12 inches long and an inch across. It would be an experiment to see if it would actually grow into a tree.
Within a few months, it began to show shoots of little green branches. Month after month, it grew.
Within a year, my stick started to resemble a very small tree. Some years later, it stands about 20 feet high and five feet across. Magnificent!
Around this time every year, we begin to see the characteristic fuzzy buds begin to pop from the branches. Many think the first signs of spring are the crocus flowers or perennial bushes that peek out of the ground.
But our pussy willow tree will have the first buds to appear, every year. It’s a true leader.
According to the website Fun Flower Facts, pussy willows are often displayed in homes for Chinese New Year, symbolizing growth and prosperity in the new year. They are also used as decoration on Palm Sunday at Easter.
At our Ukrainian Catholic church, instead of using palm leaves to be blessed on Palm Sunday, we have pussy willow branches. The Encyclopedia Of Ukraine tells us that the Sunday before Easter, is also called, Willow Sunday.
Pussy willows were used because in Ukraine they thrived in the climate as opposed to palms.
The tradition with Ukrainians is that they tap each other on the head and shoulders, reciting the following wish, “Be as tall as the willow, as healthy as the water, and as rich as the earth.” Or another playful verse, which goes something like, “The willow is hitting you, I’m not hitting you, a week from today is Easter.” Personally, the former is more inspirational and friendly.
My beloved pussy willow tree is serving up the notice that spring truly is around the corner. Slowly the other horticultural species will catch-up.
We heard it from players on the field and the owner of the team. Resilience.
Brandon Graham, the defensive lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles, was interviewed after his team won Super Bowl 52. “If we got one more opportunity, we were going to give everything we got,” he said. “I’m just so thankful, because we’ve got a team that’s resilient.”
With a stunning 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots, the Eagles came into yesterday’s game as the underdog.
The Patriots’ star quarterback, Tom Brady, and his teammates were headed into the game with five Super Bowl wins. The Eagles knew they had a tough road ahead of them.
There was even the question of whether the Eagles’ quarterback, Nick Foles, would be intimidated by playing against the famous Brady.
But that did not deter him from making the right plays to help his team to victory.
Jeffrey Lurie, the silver haired 66 year-old Owner of the Eagles said his team faced many obstacles and injuries that could have prevented them from getting the Vince Lombardi trophy. But, it was their resilience that got them to the top.
Being resilient can help us through the toughest times. Sports figures, entertainers or everyday heroes remind us that it can get us through many challenges.
Life throws everybody a curve ball from time to time. But, it’s what you do with it that matters.
Join a club, volunteer, start a blog, or learn a new sport. However you pick yourself up and move forward, it will be worth it.
Recently, my husband and I turned 49 years old. Yes, we are exactly the same age.
Adam and I discovered this on our first date while we sat at a tiny table in a popular restaurant in Toronto’s gay village. We were just another couple getting to know each other, talking for hours. We chatted about our careers, funny details about our families, favourite places to travel and where we’d still like to go.
“When were you born?” I asked him. He told me December 6.
“No way”, I said.
“Yeah, December 6”, he said.
I told him it was also my birthday.
So then I asked, “What year?” Adam said, “1968”.
I saw stars. You hear about this in the movies, but it really happened to me.
Full disclosure, I am a very sceptical person, so I asked Adam to produce identification. We were set-up by a mutual friend, so I somehow thought that details about me, including my birthday, were shared in advance.
Sure enough, his ID proved that we are birthday twins.
Many people our age feel sad, depressed or even indifferent about getting older.
Perhaps they feel that they haven’t achieved certain life goals, or don’t have a partner to love. Maybe they’ve experienced tragedy and their life has taken a sudden turn.
For me, I’m happy for every year I get to share my birthday with my husband.
Back in the fall of 2016, my husband was diagnosed with Glioblastoma (GBM), the most aggressive type of brain cancer.
Complaining about hearing and memory loss, as well as feelings of exhaustion, a CT scan and MRI at the hospital proved that it was GBM.
The doctor shared the grim news with him along with all of the disheartening facts and figures.
Adam was alone in a hospital room with no one by his side but a man in the next bed recovering from back surgery, and his visiting wife.
Fighting tears and sounding scared, he told me as I drove down to see him.
When I arrived, we hugged and I said that everything would be okay. From that moment, we began our mission to surround ourselves with the best medical professionals and support. Adam was 47 years old.
Over the next few months we experienced a lot.
Two weeks following his diagnosis, he had a full craniotomy and the tumour was successfully removed.
With 47 staples in his head, he left the hospital the next day and we began his recovery.
Most of our days were spent taking our mini poodle Ella for long walks, enjoying quiet time with our teenage children, and watching lots of old movies on TV.
At the same time, our daughter was preparing her university applications, and our son was beginning Grade 9. It was an important year for them and we wanted to help them through it.
We welcomed so many visitors, flowers, gift baskets and prepared meals. Honestly, I enjoyed the break from cooking. All of this made our house feel full of love and we welcomed every bit of it.
The weeks following were filled with radiation and chemotherapy treatments at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. It also marked our 48th birthdays.
Fifteen months have passed since his diagnosis and Adam remains cancer-free.
It’s impossible for anyone to predict what the future holds, but one thing is for certain. We are already planning our 50th birthday bash.