The Love of My Life | My Love Letter for Maureen

On Saturday, October 25, 2014, I was privileged to share my love letter for Maureen with hundreds, upon hundreds, of the people touched by her love. There are many more words to come, however, for now, the ones I spoke at the Upper School Chapel at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School will stand alone….

Bonne Maman and Bon Papa, Ann and Henry, I love your daughter more than words can describe. Bon Papa, I can see clear as day you walking up the aisle of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Chicago, arm in arm with your beautiful daughter in her white wedding dress and being blown away. The fact that you had to walk up this aisle this morning to say goodbye to your daughter makes me so very sad.

Suzanne and Nique, I know Todd and Paul would agree with me completely when I say, it is a privilege to be married to a Diercxsens girl. I love your sister, and I know the love she shares with me, our kids, and all of us is because of the love you share as a family. Thank you for that tremendous gift.

Sweetie, I am not going to be able to share all of the stories I want to in the time I have, so I will be sharing those stories as I write about our love story the next several weeks, months and years. I will say, however, the day you said yes to our first date, yes to my proposal of marriage, and we both said I do at the altar of God were the greatest days of my life. I know the greatest days in our lives together were when our children were born. Taylor, Kyla and Katelyn. Mommy and Daddy love you.

Maureen loved nothing more than being a mother of 3. She also loved being an architect. When we were dating, I asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. She said an architect. For the past 17 years, since graduating UT, she has been an architect at O’Connell Robertson, a firm, that like St. Andrew’s is about 60 years old. I want to thank the firm not just for the privilege of amazing work but for the safe place they created this past year as the cancer was getting harder. When Maureen walked into the door on the 9th floor, she was Maureen. She was an architect. Nothing less. Nothing more. Thank you for creating that sanctuary for her.

I also want to thank Dr. Kampe and everyone at Texas Oncology, because they granted Maureen the gift of doing these things she loved for an extra 11 years. She told some friends recently over dinner just how much these extra years meant to her. However, in the last few months, I think Maureen came to realize that the genetics of love would win out over the genetics of cancer.

Unfortunately, there has been too much cancer in the All Saint’s Episcopal Church community, as well as St. Andrew’s. This past Friday, Heather Kohout passed away from cancer, which is important to our story and why it is such an honor to have the flowers from her funeral Thursday here on this altar today. As the resurrection story tells us, it took Christ three days after his crucifixion to rise again on Sunday. Heather wasn’t firmly in heaven until Monday. Her story and Maureen’s are connected, and I know Heather, along with Maureen’s grandparents, aunts and uncles and our Malibu were at the front of the line of the communion of saints welcoming Maureen into heaven Tuesday morning.

Things had gotten very tough the last several days, so when we had a routine checkup at Texas Oncology Monday morning, we had to rush to Seton Hospital, because Maureen’s sodium was dropping, a problem. Over the course of the day, we got things stabilized, and the sodium was slowly coming back up. When we both went to sleep, we were peaceful. It wouldn’t be until 7am the next morning, though, that I would understand Maureen’s words that night, finish the day, finish the day, finish the day. At 4am, we both awoke. Nurses checked vitals, which were good, and blood tests had sodium coming back up. We squeezed each other’s hand to say I love you and went back to sleep. The nurses told me they checked in again at 5:30am and we were still sleeping comfortably. At 7am, when I awoke, I found Maureen in eternal slumber. Maureen had figured out the most obvious way to beat cancer. She had won.

IMG_2179Maureen and I both know there is a God, and the birth of our three children made that even clearer. However, the events of this past week, since Maureen’s passing make me 100% certain there is also a heaven. On our way home Tuesday, we stopped at Maudie’s where we always go for fajitas on Saturday night. When we had settled at our table, we looked out the window and saw a small rainbow in the clouds. Maureen was saying hi. Then, we heard the song Every Little Thing She Does is Magic from the Police over the restaurant’s sound system. We started to talk about how Maureen loved Bruce Springsteen. Nique pointed out that Maureen was a Jersey girl, her family growing up in Jersey, even though Maureen was born in Belgium. Yeah, you guessed it the next song was Born To Run. Mommy was with us.

It wasn’t until 5:52 on Wednesday morning, though, that I felt heaven. At 5:52, I felt an intense, warm and beautiful hug from Maureen, unlike any we could share on earth. This was the time she would usually go downstairs to wake the kids with Goodmorning Sunshine. She lifted me up to our bed. I was sleeping on the floor. My three kids were in our bed. Then, Maureen had me tell each of our kids a message. She told me to tell Katelyn that when she missed mommy, she could put her head on Daddy’s heart, and mommy would be with her. Then, she told me to tell Kyla to get her new volleyball from the garage, and then I told Kyla that mommy would always be with her on the court or on the field. Finally, I told Taylor that in his private moment with mommy at the hospital, after her passing, that she heard and felt his love, and she loved him. At 6:09, it had passed, the same time we usually were up and about, scurrying to get off to school. The kids and I have decided that 5:52 to 6:09 will be sacred time, mommy time, during the school year.

Later that morning, we experienced the same amazing sunrise all of us did in Austin, along with the next one on Thursday morning. Mommy was with us. Then, yesterday morning, Maureen spoke to me. Throughout our marriage, and especially during the fight with cancer, I always worried that Maureen knew just how much I love her, how deeply I cherished her. On the way to Baguette et Chocolat, our favorite French patisserie.. by the way, I don’t know what heaven looks like, but I do know what it smells like … anyway, I asked Siri to play Once in a Lifetime, our favorite song from the Talking Heads. Instead of the one I expected, the one from Chicago, where we had visited a month ago, so Maureen and I could tell the kids about where we met, played instead.

Just as I was about to switch it back to Talking Heads, I started to hear the words, and I knew my sweetie was talking to me… I’ll share them with you now:

When I saw your face

I could feel my heartbeat begin to race

In the still of the night

It was love at first sight

Not too long ago

I was on my own

Never would have known

You’d come into my life

Now, you’re the love of my life

Chorus:

Once in a lifetime

Maybe the last time

Just the right time to fall in love

Once in a lifetime

For such a long time

I’ve been waiting for you

You were there for me

It was there for you

We were meant to be

Now we’re fallin’ in love

Finally fallin’ in love

Sweetie, you are indeed once in a lifetime, and over the next several months and years, the kids and I are going to travel to places that were important to you and me, as well as to places that were important to you before you and I met, to sprinkle your ashes, and your love, everywhere.

IMG_2534I want everybody here to share in this sprinkling of love. So, let me tell you how. This past weekend, before we checked in to Seton, Dr. Kampe had prescribed donuts to Maureen. We dutifully complied, and Maureen asked for a powdered donut, interestingly the store in which I bought it named their donuts, and this one was called winning, just like her victory over cancer. The tough thing the last several days was Maureen’s breathing, so she liked cold air to blow. With powdered sugar donut in hand, she leaned forward to the vents of the car, and the sugar blew everywhere! So, this weekend, go buy a powdered sugar donut, find a fan, and let the sugar blow over you, just like Maureen’s love blew over all of us.

Amen.