A Loving Spirit

A Loving Spirit

Over the past 15 years, I've published hundreds of articles with the invaluable support of my editors, Don Huntington, Amy Van Linge, Heather McKinney, and Christine Douglas. 110° Magazine has been fortunate to have all of them. It was Christine Douglas, who once wrote a piece about the nonprofit Heart of a Hero called “Giving Until it Hurts,” a story about PTSD and mental illness that won her a prestigious national award. I never imagined that at age 53, Christine would be diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in multiple organs and deemed terminal, with no treatment options offered. She was given three weeks to three months to live and immediately put on hospice. I can’t begin to imagine or understand what went through her mind, how she processed the news, and especially how she dug up the courage to break that news to all her loved ones. It was one of the most difficult conversations of my life. I didn’t want to believe it was true.

Backstory: I met Christine Douglas when our sons attended Pioneer Elementary School. Both boys were in first grade during a challenging time for my son, who was repeating first grade. Thankfully, he had a supportive teacher the second time and made a best friend, Ty Douglas. It was heartwarming to see their friendship blossom. Ty, who had epilepsy, often had to be on medication and sometimes experienced severe shaking as a side effect. His parents, Christine and Jason, were always there to pick him up from school together, even if he needed to come home early to adjust his medication. My heart went out to their family as I witnessed Ty’s health struggles.

As parents, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing your child make a best friend, and it seemed like everything else fell into place after that. My son Jordan once asked why he had been held back a grade and concluded, "I know why, so I could meet my best friend, Ty!" Over time, our families became close. My husband and I appreciated the Douglas family for their loving nature. Jason and Christine owned an estate sale business (J and C Estate Sales), which gave them the flexibility to be there for Ty. They also have two other children: Drake, the oldest, and Adia, the only daughter. Ty, their youngest and their miracle child, had almost not survived childbirth.

My husband and I learned that Christine and Jason had extensive experience in the magazine business, having worked for highly successful companies. As a relatively new owner of 110° Magazine, I could only dream of their insights and skillsets. Christine was a graphic artist for BAM (Bay Area Magazine), a prestigious music publication. Jason had also worked in the magazine business. His sales and business coaching were invaluable as I navigated my new endeavor into the magazine world. They both offered to assist me any time I needed.

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Our sons expanded their friendship circle to include friends like Ivan, Mateo, and twins Austin and Andrew, but the trio of Ivan, Ty, and Jordan were inseparable. They shared recess, band, and sports, creating the best memories. As parents, we all connected, and Jason highly impressed us with his musical talents, playing multiple instruments and writing music. He was a mentor and helped mold the musical path of Ty and Ivan and their bands, who have since become gifted musicians. No one was surprised when Jason and Christine decided to open a record store with space where musicians could practice and play. They named it RPM Records, the only record store in Brentwood, happily run by the whole family. Not only was it an excellent place to hang out and listen to LPs, but local youth would congregate, and jam, and bands would perform. They began collaborating with PAL to hold fundraisers and events that would benefit the Police Activities League. When a new owner purchased their business building, they were forced to move out after their rent tripled. They currently have a space in Curios-ity in downtown Brentwood, where they still sell records and memorabilia. Christine and Jason's estate sale business has thrived over the years, becoming the largest in the Bay Area, with long lines at every sale.

Christine eventually joined 110° Magazine part-time, noticing my need for assistance then easily and efficiently she began running the office. Her writing and graphic design talents were a tremendous asset to the magazine, and she eventually took over the founder’s Editor-in-chief position when he retired from the magazine. Over the years, Christine has been a joy to work with, combining professionalism and creativity, making my job significantly easier. Her writing skills earned her the well-deserved recognition for writing excellence from the Communicator Awards in 2022 gaining 110° Magazine national recognition among the CNN, Disney, Forbes, and Spotify ranks. Her writing talents inspired our community to gain a more in-depth appreciation of the local businesses, non-profits, and people making a difference.

Christine is a friend and mentor with whom I can share my deepest thoughts without judgment. I trust her with my life. We spend every holiday together. Our sons, husbands, and extended friends remain close, cheering on each family’s milestones. Raising our families in Brentwood and being part of this community has been a dream life enriched by the relationships and memories we've created together. Our lives will never be the same without her, but we know we were given a gift by sharing our lives with her and her family.

I want to share a small piece of the speech she shared when her friends and loved ones joined together to celebrate her at the Brentwood Emporium after learning of her diagnosis. There was no dry eye as she read her speech from her phone. “When you get a diagnosis like this, you realize that everything is sacred. I’ve been given the gift of time. It is time to show my friends and family how much they have enriched my life and how much I love them, and for the love of my life, it is time to kiss him a little harder. I’ve only got a little life left in me, and I’m going to live it up! But as my time edges closer to midnight, the guilt that comes with the idea of leaving


my loved ones behind increases. It’s unfathomable. It’s the worst part of this journey. It’s an unbearable torment that is ripping me apart if I’m being honest.”

“What a wild ride it’s been. When you are looking back at your life story, I hope it is magical for you, too. It absolutely should be. Don’t live your life with what you should have done. Live like today is the only day you’ve got. What an awakening it’s been to see things this way. To appreciate every minute, every song, every sunrise, every meal, every minute, every hug, every text, everything. We don’t get to decide how long we have here. I’m choosing to continue however long I’ve got here with grace. I hope that only the good memories will remain and everyone will be okay. I hope my family will not think of what couldn’t have been but what they could still achieve. We rush through life with blinders on, sometimes in a haze. One thing I can assure you is that when you know this game is over for you, you immediately gain perfect clarity. Nothing I thought I was working so hard for matters. All I wish for is more time. I can’t believe how fortunate I have been to be blessed by you all. Don’t take today for granted, you all. As it slips away, so does your chance to make it a memory. Seize it! Make every second count and turn it up to an eleven every damned day.”

“ What a wild ride it’s been.”

Make every second count and turn it up to an eleven every damned day.

I hope Christine is aware of how many people look up to her and find inspiration in her life, abilities, heart, beauty, and her family's legacy—not to mention the dignity with which she approaches death. She has always found joy in giving; however, it’s her time to receive. She will be honored at the next HOW Helping One Woman dinner on June 18th at the Brentwood Community Center. Tickets are on sale for $25 and include dinner. You are in for a treat if you haven’t attended a HOW dinner. Every month, people nominate a local woman suffering an irreplaceable loss, and Christine will randomly choose one woman to be honored next month. There are raffle prizes, silent auction items, desserts, a DJ, and a no-host bar. Many attend because they know the recipient; however, many attend just to support one woman, whether they know her or not. Nothing is more special than when they hand over the total of what they collected, and she picks the next month's winner. I have listened to the speeches these recipients give, and I always walk away feeling I received more than I gave just by hearing their stories. The money is necessary, but seeing the community rally together in support is priceless. 

Tickets can be purchased at: https://mysosevent.com/events/helping-one-woman-discovery-bay-honoring-christine-douglas

Donations can be sent to their go fund me at:

https://gofund.me/19f8be37

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