Emily Newcomb’s Day Off

Today marks two inconspicuous anniversaries. It is the 30th anniversary of the classic movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” and it has been four months since Emily passed away. The two dates that happen to coincide both seem relatively insignificant to most, I’m sure, but the common denominator between these two anniversaries is incredibly significant to me.

If you are a child of the 80’s then you understand the supreme importance of every one of John Hughes’ movies, and the likelihood is that you have one that is burned into your very essence. One that will steal a Saturday from you every time you happen to surf upon it. One whose soundtrack has the uncanny ability to make you get up and dance regardless of where the muck and mire of life might have you. Which is it?

Sixteen Candles?

The Breakfast Club?

Weird Science?

Pretty in Pink?

The answer for me now and always is “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

As a kid, there were few role models that inspired me more. Other kids? They wanted to be a famous athlete like Nolan Ryan or a super hero like Batman. Me? Ferris Frickin Bueller. I can recall multiple times as a kid turning up the TV during the scene where Ferris hijacks the parade float and sings “Shake it Up, Baby,” and dancing my tiny white ass off. That is, unless someone came home. Then the volume would go down as quick as that tiny white ass into the couch. Because the truth is, I wasn’t Ferris Bueller. I was Cameron Frye, Ferris’ meek, dorky friend.

Years later, when that skinny white ass grew into the voluptuous masterpiece that trails behind me today, I met another Cameron Frye: my wife, Emily. The difference between our two Cameron’s was significant, however. While I have always been the pessimistic underachiever version, Emily was not. She was the Cameron that came towards the end of the movie. The one who would no longer allow himself to be a victim. The one from the scene when you figure out that this movie wasn’t about Ferris at all.

When you are faced with the diagnosis of a seemingly terminal cancer, you basically have two choices. You are either going to fight like hell even though the odds are completely stacked against you, or you are going to choose not to fight, and enjoy the remainder of your days, soaking as much joy from each of them as you possibly can. Both of those choices are incredibly brave and incredibly difficult. And Emily chose them both.

For more than three years, Emily went through a myriad of treatments to fight off the cancer growing inside her. Countless difficulties, untold hours and never ending treatments. Most of them were not effective. The ones that were effective were equally harmful. But she chose it. Time after time, she chose to fight an unwinnable battle. When it became apparent that the fight was near it’s end, Emily made that second brave choice. She chose to lay down her sword; in so doing, she won the battle. The cancer didn’t kill Emily. Emily killed it. She did what the doctors and researchers and drug companies have never been able to successfully do. She took the events into her own hands and made the choice of how this was going to unfold.

“I am not going to sit on my ass as the events that affect me unfold to determine the course of my life. I’m going to take a stand. I’m going to defend it. Right or wrong, I’m going to defend it.” -Cameron Frye

Here’s to Cameron. And here’s to Emily.



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