I Have Been Provoked | Part Two

I ended Part One of “I Have Been Provoked” with these words, “we have to rethink the fight with cancer.” I never expected to be in the middle of this fight. Heck, I never expected to hear the words, “you have cancer.” Even worse, those words were not spoken to me. They were spoken to my wife just 11 years ago. 3 months ago, I woke up in a room at Seton Hospital in Austin, Texas, and my wife was no longer breathing. Cancer did this. Cancer. Cells that have lost their sense of direction, their sense of purpose, their ability to control themselves. I have been provoked. Now, it is also important to point out what cancer didn’t do, can’t do, will never do. Maureen was Maureen each and every day of her fight. She was a beautiful mother of three, an architect, my wife, my BFF, my soulmate. Cancer only attacks the body. It does not attack the soul. God owns our soul, and He welcomed my sweetie home the morning of October 21, 2014. He breathed new life into her soul, as cancer lost its fight that day. Cancer only attacks the body, not the soul. But, I have been provoked, and I am speaking in stark terms, as I said in Part One. We have to speak in stark terms. Over 7 million people will have their bodies stop working this year, like Maureen, because of cancer. Some of the people in this fight are my friends, people I love dearly. Cancer changes everything. Sure, we have some tools that let us wage the fight more fairly for...

The Love of My Life | Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

In less than 12 hours, our son, Taylor, and I, will start our first half-marathon together. We are here in New Orleans. It is a special time. It is a special place, and my latest reflections on the love of my life have been over 26 years in the making. 26 years ago, the love of my life, Maureen, and I came to New Orleans together from Chicago. We had been dating since New Year’s, and we were so excited to escape the cold of Chicago and head south. I remember the energy of that trip and the pulse of my heart, as if it were yesterday. When you are with the love of your life, every day is like that. Your heart feels like it is going to burst, because it is so happy.  As Taylor and I were walking back to our hotel, after picking up some breakfast items for the morning, I pointed out the Le Meridien where his mom and I had stayed in February of 1989. The good times were definitely rolling. Back then, for Maureen and I, they rolled as the result of one too many hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s! This time they are rolling for different reasons.  Only hours after our arrival last night, as the kids and I were seated at our table at Domenica’s, they suddenly realized Mark Wahlberg was standing right next to us. Their hearts were racing with excitement, just like my heart raced with excitement being with Maureen. When you’ve been in love, you remember that wonderful feeling, that burning desire to be with the person you love. Their mere...

I Have Been Provoked | Part One

I am frequently asked “what do you do?” That is always a hard question for me to answer, because what I do is a function of who I am. To understand what I do is to understand what makes me tick. What drives me. Who I love. What makes me put the gloves on. I put the gloves on because I have been provoked. I have been provoked by the “Emperor of All Maladies,” cancer. I have not just been provoked by cancer. I have been provoked by its consequences. I have been provoked not just because it led to me losing the love of my life, Maureen, on Tuesday, October 21, 2014. I have been provoked because of what it did before that. What I do is a function of how I have been provoked. I have written a lot about our story, about the love of my life, about Maureen choosing to be a survivor and not a patient, about the amazing courage of my wife to live life to the fullest in the midst of great fear. I have written these stories, because as I said in one of my early posts late last summer, this was to be our story, not cancer’s. However, to make clear what I do and why I do it, I am about to speak in very stark terms about cancer. I will admit that I have been afraid to do this for some time. I’m scared of the emotions I have suppressed so that my love for Maureen can shine clearly, however, I have been provoked. I must speak. And,...

The Love of My Life | Shadows

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...

The Love of My Life | Bubbles AND Powdered Donuts

As I sit to capture in words my musings over the holidays, I think it is important to note my setting. I am sitting in the lobby of a quaint San Antonio hotel, just along the Riverwalk. The kids (Taylor, Kyla and Katelyn) and I drove down here yesterday for the start of a quick little get-away weekend. My son, Taylor, put it best. “Dad, we need a road trip. We’re road trip people.” He is right. We don’t dread them. We cherish them. For whatever reason, for us, going on a road trip, going someplace new brings out out our essence, our effervescence, our bubbles. I started to write a little about bubbles on New Year’s Eve, as the kids and I popped a bottle of champagne to acknowledge the close of 2014 and the start of 2015. I noted on Facebook that night the many, many bubbles that our dear, sweet, beautiful Maureen brought into our lives, and after a day of silliness with my kids on our way to and in San Antonio, this bubble thing has really captured my interest as a motif, just like powdered donuts. As I awoke this morning for another day of adventure on our little road trip, I am realizing that every day needs either bubbles or powdered donuts, hopefully both. I am realizing that was part of Maureen’s magic for me, for the kids, for everyone that knew and loved her… there was always a bubble. There was always a powdered donut. She knew how to do both, and most of the time, she could package them both up...