I never knew Sydney Boone Gaylord. But her brother and sister-in-law are friends of mine, and I first came to know them when Sydney was battling for her life with a brain tumor. Sydney died in August, 2011 after almost three years of having rough seasons and then respite, hellacious periods and then sweet times, as she and her husband Todd tried to balance finding some semblance of normal family life with facing and accommodating the rigors of cancer and its treatment.
Many, many people (almost 300,000) followed a CaringBridge blog that Todd kept, chronicling the ups and downs of the fight for his high school sweetheart’s life even as they tried to raise three small children. And I’m one of the grateful people who, although I never met her in person, was introduced through that blog to Sydney Boone Gaylord and her strength, personality, generosity, creativity and just downright quirkiness, even as she was critically ill, especially as she was critically ill. All of that just shone through her story, as told by Todd, and I wished, wished, wished I knew this cool woman, brother of Robbie, sister-in-law of Sarah. When she died, I felt like I’d lost someone I knew… and that is the power of words, of stories, of pictures painted when one dares to share personal struggles in a way that is accessible to those beyond the inner circle, as Todd’s blog was. When we’re open as he was, the ripples and tsunamis of inspiration and encouragement can go further than we’d ever imagine.
Todd continues to write about their family life as he adjusts to life without the woman that lit up every room (or perhaps even city or state) that she entered. And the story I’d like to share here is straight from his blog. It’s imperative that you read it directly from Todd, who’s given me permission to feature this personal post, so I won’t even paraphrase or quote it… but suffice it to say that, were she still alive, Sydney would receive a silverplated version of our Silver Lining cards each and every day simply because of the way she engaged strangers and affected them, dared to connect, exuded interest in others, and changed the lives of so many whom she met.
Oh, and get some Kleenex first.