For the past few months, I have written and blogged about the Love of My Life, Maureen. I’ve been rereading a few of those posts now, crying and laughing as I think about just how lucky I am to be the guy in these stories. I lived these moments with this amazing girl, from our first dates to the birth of our children to all of the crazy stuff in between.
On the way into school and work this morning, I commented to my daughter, Kyla, that I missed her mommy. As the tears started to flow down my cheeks, though, I started to laugh uncontrollably. My 13 year-old was a bit confused over this turn of events, but as I explained, laughter and tears came from the same heart. They are both connected to the same love, the same stories, the same craziness. I laughed because I simply adored every minute of every day of every year that I had with Maureen. Sure there were hard times. We’re human.
The question, though, isn’t whether there are hard times. The question is what we are going to do with them. Maureen had hard times over her on and off 11 year battle with breast cancer. She made a choice. That choice changed not only her life but our life as a family and the lives of all with whom she interacted. Over the past few months, I’ve had many conversations and feel so blessed that folks feel comfortable talking with the kids and I about Maureen, about her loss, about their grief but also about their stories. For as much time as Maureen and I spent with each other, we also spent many hours apart, pursuing our respective passions and daily interactions. Every story that is shared adds another reason to smile, to cry, and to laugh. I cherish them.
A friend I met through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society posted on my Facebook a wonderful and compelling comment. She said that in her tradition a person is not dead until the last person on earth that has a memory of that person also dies. That is a pretty powerful thought. We have yet not ceased “being alive” for as long as we animate the memories of another human being.
As I think about this now, I can’t help but think back to my road trip this summer to Lake Tahoe for my annual 100 mile bike ride with Team in Training for Kethan… and now for Maureen. The kids and I came back through Utah and visited a lot of amazing scenery and a lot… I mean a lot… of red rocks. Like many families, we capture the obligatory photos as we enter a national park or a new state. As the kids and I crossed into Utah, I took the photo included with this post. What is powerful in this picture is that I am in it… I am the shadow reflected into the photo with my kids.
And that’s just it. We all reflect shadows into each other’s lives… each and every day. I laughed and cried this morning because of Maureen’s shadow in my life. And that shadow will never cease, as my friend said, until the last living person touched by that shadow no longer feels its caress. Which makes me think long and hard about my shadow and how it falls over most especially my children but also about all those with whom I am in contact. I am blessed to know that Maureen’s shadow will always fall over me.