By Eric Valentine

March is Women’s History Month. And it matters to me—a middle-aged, college-educated, white man, raised in upper middle-class suburbs, and thereby a possible card-carrying member of the privileged patriarchy. That means I shouldn’t tell you anything about Amelia Earhart or Harriet Tubman or Mary Tyler Moore or Lady Gaga that a ‘woke’ YouTube Short or a well-researched, precisely female Hollywood screenwriter hasn’t already done or can’t more effectively do.
But I can tell you about my wife.

The Order of Things

Lisa’s death was not in the natural order of things. She was supposed to live a long life because she was a good person who could have helped so many lives along the way. Yet she succumbed to Ewing’s Sarcoma—a rare bone cancer that typically kills young boys. I can’t believe she’s been gone 28 years, five longer than she was old.
I don’t want to tell you about Lisa because she was “the most beautiful person in every room.” I want to tell you about Lisa because she was the person in every room everyone wanted to know. She had a timelessness about her, an accessible beauty, and a gift of being able to say that soft, nourishing thing you weren’t expecting to hear in a harsh, loud world.
She died on Valentine’s night 1995 at 11:23 p.m. It was three years from the date we knew we had fallen in love. It was three years to the moment we shared our first kiss. Her history lacked time, not joy. And I’ve learned there’s no such thing as ‘getting over it,’ you can only find ways of letting grief move through you, to more deeply connect to that which you miss.

A Long March

Since nobody needs my Harriet Tubman script from me and whereas the NFL has already cornered the why-women-matter-in-October market with pink athletic apparel every fall, I choose to march through spring chairing the Leadership Committee for Idaho’s Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)—the organization whose mission is to advance blood cancer treatments and cures, and to increase patient access to them. And they do it well, as the driving force behind an effort that has seen 5-year survival rates for blood cancers more than double over the last 5 decades.
Yet cancer is expected for nearly 11,000 Idahoans in 2023. More than 3,000 are expected to die. Enter: March 1, the launch of the ‘Visionary of the Year’ campaign—a 10-week fundraising competition wherein some really forward-thinking Idahoans will share their ‘why’—the connection between their life and their career and this disease. It culminates May 13 at the grand finale at Boise Centre on the Grove where my live performance group, True Story— featuring singer-songwriter Darian Reneé, will perform the keynote address. The goal of the Visionary of the Year campaign is to see a grand total of $300,000 raised. May our generosity in 2023 lower the mortality rate for eternity.

A Father’s Vision

When it had become clear Lisa’s cancer was no longer responsive to treatment, not eligible for trials, and too far along for transplanting bone marrow, her father shared this vision: “In 20 or 30 years,” he said, “they’ll find a cure. It’s my fault I brought you into the world too early.”
It’s the vision I want no parent—present or future—to ever see, and it’s the timeless moment where March through May 2023 began for me. I invite you, dear reader, to help me prove this spring that Idaho’s volcanic geography rumbles underneath a more powerful legacy: its people’s historic generosity.