I had read briefly about Jill back in May in the local newspaper after I heard about her through the UCSF Medical Cancer newsletter that my wife gets. Jill had been diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer although she did not smoke.
Although I hadn’t kept up with her story, as I read through the article I felt myself tearing up. I knew what was coming. I looked over at my wife smiling and laughing with my family and felt truly blessed.
Thanksgiving is truly THE family holiday of the year. It isn’t long enough for most people to travel far away. It isn’t about presents or religion. It is about celebrating your place and those around you and being thankful for what you have. Sometimes hearing stories about the loss of others who really are special people reminds me of this.
I want to give a special thanks to my friend Donald Wilhelm who we lost this year. A good guy who inspired many and left us too soon. In the article in Sports Illustrated: The Courage of Jill Costello, we read a great story about another inspiring person who can teach us to appreciate what we have today. Although the article did not mention it, Jill lost her battle after graduation, but her strength inspired many to give more than you receive.
As her coach so succinctly put it at Jill’s funeral, “There are givers and there are takers, and you want to be more giver than taker. She never complained. She gave far more than she ever took. She was an inspiration to all of us. I hope when we face something as daunting as this, we can show some of the courage that she showed.”