April 23, 2010
Some of my sweet friends have helped me to realize that I’ve left out major details in my latest blogs making it a challenge to follow what I'm talking about when I mention Jodie or Larry. I’ve assumed that you can read my mind or have heard so much about Larry the whale on the news/facebook/internet that I didn’t want to repeat a bunch of -what I felt was - unnecessary information. And because I blogged about what Jodie was attempting to do a few weeks ago (Jodie's Crazy Ride - March 26th), I didn’t want to "bore you" with repetition. What I realized is that when you're caught up in the wave of something pretty big, it feels like everyone is there with you. That whole "the world revolves around you" thing. Such a lie. ANYWAY... my bubble has popped so let me fill in the missing details.
On March 28, 2010, my very good friend Jodie Nelson paddled (stand up paddle) across the Pacific Ocean from Catalina Island to Dana Point...nearly 40 miles. This was something that had never been done by a single female (or married for that matter but I mean single as in solo). Only three men have completed this paddle. Jodie was attempting this as a way to encourage me to continue fighting against the cancer in my body. She knew this was something she had a high chance of failing but was determined to give it a try anyway. She was also doing it as a way to raise money to help further breast cancer awareness/education for the younger gals out there. I’d thought about suggesting the use of a part of the money to redo my “horribly in need of it” bathrooms but didn’t think that would fly too well. So I decided to “let” Jodie stick with her plan of raising money for education. I’m so giving.
Ok, ok...on with the story. Jodie chose to do her paddle during the Ocean Ohana Catalina Challenge, which is an annual stand up paddle relay race. Jodie was given special consideration because she was doing this paddle for charity. She had completed the race last year with another female paddler and ended up finishing in about the same time that it took her to complete solo this year!! We were SUPER blessed with beautiful weather and lake like conditions on the water. All of these things made Jodie’s trek easier but not at all easy.
It was very hard watching her suffer in the way she did especially because she was doing it for me. I couldn’t get out in the water and relieve her of her misery, I couldn't make the food taste good to her or help her to keep it down. I couldn't take away the pain. A lot like how she feels when she’s goes to treatment with me. It was brutal. I was determined to be on the boat even though many people were concerned it would be too hard for me. The only hard part was watching Jodie suffer...oh, and getting up at 4:00 that morning.
But God, in His ultimate wisdom and humor, turned the entire event into a nationwide news story...literally...by using a whale. Similar to Jonah in the Bible but Jodie didn’t end up all slimy from the whale’s stomach acids. But their names do both begin with a "Jo" and have a total of 5 letters. It's late. Back to my saga...the whale helped to tell the story...all of it!! It was quite obvious Larry was put in those waters to spread His - as in God's - word.
A few hours into the paddle, Jenny (Jodie’s sister),
Drew (video guy),
Ray (boat captain), and I suddenly saw this very large dark fish like thing getting VERY close to the back of Jodie and her board. Our faces displayed fear as we were trying to pretend that there wasn’t this floating beast swimming up and down right behind our friend. Then we had to give in and tell her what was going on because we couldn’t stop squealing. Or screaming “OH MY GOSH, OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!!!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!?”.
After finally getting to the point of being completely confident that this was a friendly whale, Jodie settled into trying to paddle with him in front, underneath, behind, and all around her for almost two hours. She made him her friend and named him Larry...for NO reason.
Larry turned out to be a Minke whale and is not commonly seen in the waters off the west coast. It is estimated that there are about 500-600 Minke whales in these waters. It’s even more rare to see this kind of interaction between Minke’s and humans. Because we had lots, and lots, and lots of documentation of the encounter, the story became viral and went international within a few short days. Hitting ALL of the major news outlets, the Orange County Register, Yahoo’s front page...and “Ellen”. It’s been nuts.
This has been a God story from the first moment the seed was planted into Jodie’s head. Larry the whale was one of God’s vessels in getting it out. As we were praying the morning of the race, Jenny prayed specifically for God’s beauty to be revealed in His creation and in Jodie’s body giving her the strength to endure. Obviously He answered the prayer in a BIG way...in a way that only He could have dreamed of.
I think that about sums up the story. Thank you for listening. If you'd like to see the “Ellen” clip where Jodie totally kicked butt, the link is below. Jodie also has a blog that has lots and lots of information about Larry and her/our adventure if you would like to know more. You can also be really hip and trendy and click the special link, on her blog, to order a super cute “Larry the Whale” tee-shirt. Mine’s in the mail. Until next time...ta, ta.