“Thinking about a future without cancer.” Those are the words I wrote as I finished part one of this powdered donut manifesto. It is interesting to look back on those words from the end of May, because so much has happened in June. What is more incredible about this past June is that the last 30 days simply never would have been possible without a simple question and an even more profound answer at the foot of the Statue of Liberty 26 years ago.
26 years ago I proposed to the love of my life, Maureen. I wrote in detail of our journey of love and of our journey to Liberty Island and my proposal over the 4th of July weekend in 1989 in this post, Our Story | The Next Positive (The Proposal). I still glow thinking about Maureen’s answer. Never have I been so happy to hear the simple word, yes. As I look back on the date of that post, I wrote it October 7, exactly 2 weeks before Maureen passed from this world to the next. Time stood still the morning Maureen passed, just like time stood still 26 years ago. In both cases, I had no idea what was coming next. However, in both moments time stood still. Time stood still because love is timeless. That is a really powerful thought to let stew around for a while. Love and timelessness. I talked about this idea with a cherished family friend, Kelly, this morning on Mustang Island, south of Corpus Christi. It is where I am as I write the third installment of the Powdered Donut Manifesto, this time with a touch of cinnamon.
Kelly blessed me this morning by telling me the story of the passing of her Aunt Susan, her mom’s sister. As she shared the story of her aunt’s last breath, I felt the timelessness of love envelop us. I was taken back to the morning of Maureen’s passing. I had woken up after her last breath, but I had felt her soul while I slept, just like Kelly felt her Aunt Susan’s soul lift all in the room up that morning as she passed. Love and timelessness. It seems fitting that this sharing of stories and this part of the manifesto would happen at Cinnamon Shores. I just looked up its definition, “Cinnamon was so highly prized among ancient nations that it was regarded as a gift fit for monarchs and even for a god.” This place on Mustang Island is indeed fit for monarchs. As I said to Kelly, I have to go sit by the pool here at Cinnamon Shores and write the words in my heart before I head back to Austin. When the words strike and my heart moves, I have learned not to stand in the way. It is time to sit and let things pour out.
Unfortunately, love is not the only connection between the two stories Kelly and I shared this morning. Breast cancer also connects the two stories. It makes me think once again about a future without cancer. However, is it really just about a future without cancer? Or, perhaps, is it about a future with more love? Is cancer really the heart of the story? For those that have read my writing for a while, you know that I very consciously chose to make my writing last summer and fall about our story and not cancer’s. As things got more complicated last year with Maureen’s fight with cancer, I simply was not going to write about the doctor visits, the diagnoses, the drugs, the pain, the loss of the use of her right arm. I was going to write about love. That love continues, and it is at the heart of the next installment in the manifesto.
I had the privilege of speaking as one of about 20-30 speakers around the globe for Rebel Jam 2015 a week ago Friday, hosted by Corporate Rebels United, amongst others. It was online, starting in Europe, moving through the US, and ending in Asia. I spoke about the idea of “Rebel or Transform?” (This link will take you to a Cisco Webex recording. After an intro and a bit of a technical glitch, I get rolling about 1:40 into the stream.) In my mind, to rebel is to assume the way things are and rebel against them. To transform is to assume the way things can be and then work towards them. In the fight with cancer, we continue to rebel against the disease. We assume the disease the way it is and then rebel, fight, and try to win. However, we have already won the battle that actually matters, love. We can transform the battle with cancer by starting with love and working towards it. Love is timeless. Cancer has already lost this fight.
26 years ago, the love of my life, Maureen, said yes to my proposal of marriage. For the past month, the timelessness of that moment has unfolded for each of my children. Taylor, Kyla and Katelyn each have had time to themselves at sleep away camps, trips with family and cousins, or in the case of Taylor, his junior experience to Italy along with 18 classmates from St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. With two out of the three away at any one moment, I have had the chance at some one on one time with each of my kids, each of these amazing gifts, gifts fit for a monarch. I have had cinnamon time. Their love and my love for them make me feel like a king. Would I like for each of them to walk the shores of the beach one more time with their mom? You bet I would. However, as I look into their smiles, into their sparkle, I realize she already is.