The Love of My Life | “Can You Imagine?”

“Can you imagine what it’s like seeing life from the other side?” For those that have followed my writing for a while, you know Teo’s Gelato on 38th in Austin is a special place for me. Last Wednesday, I was sitting at Teo’s, after dropping my youngest, Katelyn, off at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School for another day of 6th grade. However, what unfolded over the next few hours was definitely not routine. For that matter, what has unfolded over the last few days is beyond imagination, but when “your heart is open wide, you’ll believe it.” And, for the last hour, I have been having a conversation with Nicholas here at Stouthaus Coffee Pub on Lamar… yes, I spend a lot of time in coffee shops! Nicholas was here with his son, Finley. Finley is only 5 months old, and as I looked over at him, I remembered “wheeling” Taylor around the University of Texas School of Law when he was this age. It was my third year of law school. It was late 1999. Taylor had been born earlier that year, at the end of January. Fortunately, Nicholas and Finley decided to move over to the couch at Stouthaus, and Nicholas and I started an unexpected, yet powerful conversation. Quite frankly, this blog post on “Can You Imagine?” would not be complete but for the many nuggets of thinking that Nicholas unleashed in my my mind. This is the power of authenticity and vulnerability. It is why I like to talk with people so much. I’m lucky Nicholas was of a similar spirt this morning. One of these...

St. Andrew’s Senior Homily | Taylor Thompson

It is one thing for me to tell the story of the love of my life, Maureen. It is quite another when your children tell their stories of their love for their mom. On October 21, 2016, our son, Taylor Thompson, told the story of his love for his mom in a moving homily at the same Upper School chapel at St. Andrew’s where he held Maureen’s celebration of life 2 years earlier. Taylor is currently a senior at St. Andrew’s. He has been a Crusader since 1st grade. I remember walking into his 1st grade classroom with Maureen 12 years ago. It is amazing to think he will “walk out” in just a few months, graduate, and head to college. Watching him at the podium at his beloved school, telling his story of love, was a truly touching moment for me, his father. I had stood at that podium 2 years ago, “bookmarking,” in Taylor’s words the beginning of our journey forward without my beloved wife, their beloved mother. That Friday afternoon I sat with his sisters, Kyla and Katelyn, in the front row. These words from Taylor’s Facebook post about his homily frame his tribute better than any: Last Friday, October 21st, marked the beginning of “Year Three” since my mom’s passing. The first two years were about her. They were about remembering and honoring. They were about telling her story and creating her legacy. The first couple days of the third year have been different. They have been about creating our legacy. They have been about four people and their ability to change the world. Thank...

Maureen Time | Kyla Thompson

2 years ago, Taylor, Kyla, Katelyn, Maureen and I were all in Chicago. We had a grand time, watching a Cubs baseball game and a Northwestern football game. We had Chicago style pizza, visited our first apartment, our first house, and the church in which Maureen and I were married. Tomorrow marks the 23rd #powdereddonutday since Maureen’s passing on October 21, 2014, and the 24th since this joyous family weekend. As a family, we’ve decided the true first #powdereddonutday was tomorrow, the day Maureen and I renewed our vows at the altar of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, with our children by our sides. Typically, on #powdereddonutday, I share my words, however, today, I share Kyla’s. A little something she wrote in 7th grade. Maureen Time | 7th Grade | November 2014 My mom was born on April 28, 1964, weighed 7 1⁄2 pounds, was 26 in. tall, and was born in Antwerp, Belgium. Upon her passing, my mom was 6 ft. 1 in., had brown eyes, and weighed 147 pounds, having slipped from 160 due to her cancer. She was as tall as a giraffe on good days. 37 years later, after her birth, I was born in Austin, Texas, was 8 pounds 12 oz. My favorite memory of my mom was when she was pregnant with my little sister, Katelyn. She was like an angel from heaven. My parents went in for a check up like every mother would do when they are pregnant, but they got different news. They took a biopsy and told her she had breast cancer. Like anyone with cancer, they said, “lets find the...

The Love of My Life | Returning from Memphis. Returning to Dragonflies.

As we prepared for our “house photo” with the Carters and our homeowners at the build site at the 33rd Annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Memphis with Habitat for Humanity, our house leader made an innocuous comment. “Look at all the dragonflies.” Then, last week, sitting at my favorite Chick-Fil-A in West Lake, there was another dragonfly, fluttering, perched on the window sill right by my table. Looking at me. A few days later, driving away from our home, there was another dragonfly. This time on my windshield. Almost guiding me forward. Out of the driveway. Into my day. As I noted in my post on my way to Memphis with our son, Taylor, for a week with Habitat for Humanity from August 20-27, as we approach the 2 year mark of the passing of the love of my life, my Maureen, I’ve come to realize that my life is heading into a “new normal.” Each day is not only one more day without the love of my life by my side, but each day is a new day of a new life. A life informed by Maureen and my love. Like the dragonfly, I am being forced in see in new ways. With new eyes. With new facets. I will admit it is hard. I have always been open about my grief and about my journey. I do this both for the therapeutic effect it has for me, as well as to be vulnerable in a way that may be useful to a fellow journeyer through life, whether they have lost a loved one or...

The Powdered Donut Manifesto | Headed to Memphis with Habitat

I am sitting next to my son, Taylor, officially a senior as of yesterday. Yesterday was the opening chapel of the new school year at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. His sister, Kyla, had entered the chapel first, along  with her 9th grade advisory. They both passed through the doors of the Upper School chapel where their mom’s celebration of life occurred 22 months earlier (Maureen passed on 10.21.2014 after an on and off 11 year battle with breast cancer). I stood in the back, along with many other senior parents, to be sure we got “that picture,” that picture we will cherish for a lifetime, that picture of our little ones growing up, pivoting into adulthood. Taylor and I are sitting on a Southwest flight to Memphis, and I am looking forward to the week ahead and not just because we will be participating in the Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter annual work project with Habitat for Humanity. I’m looking forward to spending time with my son. In a year, this part of Team Powdered Donut, the first child of the Thompson family, Taylor, will be walking back through these same doors of the Upper School chapel, heading out, not in. Heading into his future. I’ve also been looking forward to this trip, because it comes at an important time in my own life. A few weeks ago I woke up and realized that this is no longer just one more day since Maureen’s passing, but it is indeed the first day of my new life. It is an interesting moment in the grieving journey, because it forces you to...

When Love is Your Royal Straight

I am sitting at a poker table in Reno. An empty one. Ironically, I don’t gamble, but for 2 out of the 3 nights each year when we drive from Austin to Lake Tahoe for my annual bike ride with Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, we stay in both Las Vegas and Reno on the way up. This is our third trip in 5 years. 2 years ago, we could still call Maureen back in Austin and keep her up to date on our journey. 5 years ago, we were in Reno together. The kids and I had made the drive, and Maureen had flown into Reno for the weekend of the ride. We were here as a family, along with Kethan and his mom and dad, Sumithra and Lokesh. 5 years ago was a true celebration. As day dawned in Vegas today, I decided to stroll around the Mandalay Bay casino before leaving on our drive. A casino is a very different place in the morning. Quieter. The lights are still bright; the machines still ring out; and there is still a poker table open for a game. The kids and I had dinner here five years ago on our first trip up. We ate at RM Seafood. RM. Rick Moonen. A Top Chef Master. Top Chef is a big part of our lives as a family. We have watched over ten seasons together. On Friday nights. Pizza night and Top Chef. We’ve learned the chefs’ names. Their quirks. Their idiosyncrasies. Rick came out that night to say hi to the kids. It was a special night. This...