Sunday, September 30, 2007

Memorial for Dawn

Hello Friends,

I would like to welcome you all to remember and celebrate Dawn Phelps McConnell's life!

Saturday October 6, 2007
Beneath the St. John's Bridge, Cathedral Park
Near the Dock
Rain or Shine!

Followed by a reception at Cassidy's
Around 1:30pm
Light appetizers/snacks

We will be releasing some small boats down the river with our good-byes, thoughts, wishes, poems, whatever. Feel free to write or draw something ahead of time, or we'll have supplies to do it there.

I am trying to get an idea of how many people we should be expecting. Please email me if you are think you'll attend. Thanks so much! I'm looking forward to seeing you, and I'm looking forward to a celebration of an amazing woman!


Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I've been thinking a lot about gratitude lately. I think it's a concept that I forget the power of. I suppose sometimes it can be overused and insincere. But I've been smacked in the face with gratitude every time I turn around these last months. I find that especially interesting, because when I began this journey last spring, I was VERY angry. So angry I could hardly see straight. Not one bit of this was fair or just or right. I still get angry; however, now I'm -yes- grateful for the anger. It is what propels me forward sometimes. Just when I want to crawl under my blankets and stay there - anger reminds me that I have to DO something to make a difference.

I've said over and over how amazed I am at the responses of Dawn's friends and family during this time. The selfless giving of time, work, food, kind words, prayers, and money has been stunning. Dawn has felt lifted up and so grateful! And, I see now that all this generosity is our way of expressing our enormous gratitude to/for Dawn and how she has impacted our lives and made the world a little more beautiful.

I've always been grateful for my relationship with Dawn, and I hope that I have let her know that from time to time along the way. But I have learned that I still have a lot to learn about being grateful in the moment- being grateful for each and every phone conversation or breakfast date, no matter how ordinary. I have learned that I have a responsibility to those I care about to be really present and grateful at every turn. I'll try to do better.

So today, as I begin to mend my aching heart, I will be forever grateful to Dawn for her funny, loving way. I will be forever grateful to her family for allowing me to walk this last, difficult marathon with her. I will be forever grateful to my family and friends who shared the burden with me so I was never alone.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Good Bye, My Friend

Dear Friends,

Dawn Alene Phelps McConnell died this evening just after 5:30 pm. She was 49 years old.

She was surrounded by her dear friends and family who, like you, love her very much. Her final 24 hours alternated between quiet peace and discomfort. She was very brave and beautiful and graceful.

I will write more soon.

With love,

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

One Foot Elsewhere

It's time for an update on Dawn's current status.

The hospice nurse visited a couple of days ago and told Dawn's family that she has entered what they call the "active dying" phase. She has been spending less and less time awake. It seems that she has one foot in this world and one foot elsewhere. She is very comfortable and peaceful. The nurse also indicated that this phase is not a long one, and Dawn may only be with us for a few more days or a week.

I will certainly keep you posted. Please keep Dawn and her family in your prayers.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Message From Dawn's Family

Dear Friends,

Dawn's illness seems to be bringing her close to her journey's end now, and she has recently been started on a morphine pump which has helped keep her more comfortable. The first day on morphine, she was comfortable enough to sit up and paint just a little as you can see in the picture. As her disease claims her body, her angelic smile and beauty still shine through her face. She has good days where she's very lucid and her mind is very sharp and then she has bad days where we lose her to the disease and the drugs.

I know a lot of you would like to say a few words to her to express your love and support and it just isn't possible for her to have visitors, but we've come up with a way for you to get her a personal message. You can call my cell phone 503-701-9042 between the hours of 9:00 PM and whenever at night - I'll just put it where I cannot hear it after 9:00 PM - and you can call and leave her a message. Then I can play them for her and she can hear your voice and your words. I know it's not the same as being able to touch her and speak with her, but...

Again, thank you all. Words cannot express our thanks and the love we send out to all of you for your support and your love for Dawn.

Sincerely, MaryBeth (sister) on behalf of the rest of the Phelps family; Robyn and Harold (parents), and Lynda and Susie and Lee (other sibs).

An Event to Remember

The amazing, wonderful benefit for Dawn was such an enormous success! Thanks to so much hard work, donations, and hundreds of attendees, we exceeded our wildest expectations! The benefit brought in $8471! This is an enormous showing of love and generosity from Dawn-lovers, art-lovers, and their friends.

A very special thank you to Pam Nichols who had this idea and made it happen in very short order. Pam, this event might never have happened if left to me. I sincerely appreciate your willingness to take it on! And your attention to every detail. It was wonderful!

I send another very special thank you to Tracy Dana and Jerry Fechter, Dawn's next door neighbors and friends. Thank you for your very generous assistance and tireless work to arrange the location, food and drink. Please give my thanks to the Lucky Lab also!!

I am also overwhelmed by the amount of BEAUTIFUL art that was donated for auction and sale. These pieces were stunning, and gave the auction such depth! Thank you artists!

Thanks also to the legions of volunteers that showed up to help set up and clean up, took money, and made the whole thing flow as smoothly as it did.

And of course, thank you, thank you, thank you to the hundreds of people who arrived on a Friday evening with their checkbooks in hand and bought things. Thank you for inviting your friends, family, and coworkers. Thank you.

I had the pleasure of telling Dawn about the success of the benefit the next morning. She was speechless. Her mother was covered in goosebumps. It's a beautiful thing to help someone. I hope you all can carry that glow with you for awhile.

Besides the fact that the benefit was a HUGE success. I thought it was also a lot of fun. It was wonderful to meet many of the people I've been communicating by email with lately. I also enjoyed sharing "Dawn Stories" with many of you. It made me happy (and Dawn too) that it was not a tearful event, but a joyous one. Dawn is an amazing person, and now I see so clearly how amazing people attract amazing people - and LOTS OF THEM! I hope to post photos here soon. Please send them to me if you have any!!

I know many of you have been waiting to get an update on Dawn's health. I am overdue to provide one. It keeps getting harder to write this part. But here goes... Dawn has been experiencing a lot of muscular pain. It's possible that it's from being in bed so much, but it may also be the cancer - we don't know. As a result, she has been trying to control the pain with massage, acupuncture, and pain medication. She still wasn't comfortable, however, so her doctors have prescribed morphine. This has actually been a great thing for two reasons. First, her pain is definitely more under control now, and secondly she is less groggy than she was when she was using all the other pain meds.

Dawn continues to get weaker though, and her body is not cooperating as well as it used to. Occasionally she finds a small burst of energy - the other day I set up some of her paints and brushes for her - hoping she'd paint a bit. She bossed me around for awhile, "I need better light. I need more brushes. I need burnt sienna and jenkins green." By the time we had everything in place, she needed a nap. I think she was loving it, though. I'm hoping she'll try again today.

Many of you have asked about visiting her. She has asked her family to stop visitors now. It is very exhausting and emotional for her to see all the visitors that want to come by. She is being read her emails and the messages from the blog by her sister. She is also being read cards and letters that arrive in the mail. She loves all of those things very much!

I would like to refill the schedule with some home cooked meals. Dawn's mother has told me several times that is really makes a difference for her not to have to worry about what she is going to feed herself, her husband, and Dawn's sister, Mary Beth. Please email me if you would like to get on the upcoming schedule for delivering a meal to them.

Sincerest thanks to you all for all you have done and continue to do,

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Benefit for Dawn McConnell

I'm excited to invite you all to a Benefit for Dawn McConnell! It will be Friday Sept. 7th from 5:30 until 9:00 at the NW location of the Lucky Lab (1945 NW Quimby).

Dawn's friend and fellow artist, Pam Nichols, in conjunction with many other friends and neighbors, is planning a silent auction to benefit Dawn. This is SO important, as Dawn has been unable to work for many months, and you can imagine how mountainous her medical bills have been.

Some of Dawn's work will be available for sale as well as artwork donated by several other artists. There will be food, drink, and a wonderful opportunity for us all to get together and share stories about our beloved friend, Dawn.

PLEASE share this flyer (right click on the image and save it to your own computer to print out) with anyone you know who appreciates art or Dawn or both.

I know that Pam is looking for some helpers with setting up, cleaning up, serving, etc. I believe she will also need some additional donations of different kinds (gift certificates, etc.). Please email her if you would be available to help in ANY way. The success of this event depends on having plenty of helpers, donations, and attendees. Her email is
Thanks very much! See you there!