Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate

Bad news, it seems lately, finds its way to my phone and my computer. Sometimes it walks right up to me. Is it because, as a former boss of mine hypothesizes, we're all reaching our pull dates, or is it something in the stars or in the air that's caused bad luck to latch on to my friends recently?

A former co-worker sent his e-mail last week with the subject "sad news." I've known Jim and his wife for over 20 years. Jim's newspaper career took him and his family to Astoria, Medford, Grants Pass, Pennsylvania, and most recently New Mexico. The last time we corresponded he was settling in there. In early July his wife Patty became ill. By the end of the month she was gone. Jim is trying to just make it through each day until he can move closer to family.

A Portland girlfriend's leg was bothering her. After a dozen different diagnoses doctors at the Mayo Clinic discovered the awful truth: she has ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease. We had lunch Monday at a restaurant with a handy ramp to the front door but no easy way for her to open the double doors from her wheelchair. She deals with these inconveniences all day long, like not being able to cut her food with a knife or grasp a credit card in her wallet. I drove around Beachfront Park after seeing her, unable to easily transition to business as usual at the office.

A very dear friend just underwent her third chemo treatment. She has lost her hair but is not quite ready to model her new blond wig. She has kept her sense of humor and she is brave-braver than I would be-and positive in the throes of her fight with breast cancer. "I've been putting my whole situation in a job box called "cancer treatment," she wrote in her blog this week. "It's a job to do-not that pleasant, not a client I would have chosen given the chance, but necessary."

My old school friend Janet's mother had her first chemotherapy session Monday while Janet's husband continues his very aggressive treatment for prostate cancer. I asked her how she was managing to cope and she gave me this advice: "Each night remind yourself of a different blessing you can count. We need to practice that. It doesn't come naturally."

My daughter-in-law just sent me this photo of my granddaughter enjoying her very first blueberries. In the midst of all the sadness I've been feeling, Kayla's joy and enthusiasm for blueberries burst through and made me laugh out loud. Last night I counted blueberries as blessings.

Reach Michele Thomas, The Daily Triplicate's publisher, at mthomas @trip li cate .com, 464-2141, or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.