A grateful heart

This Thanksgiving, more than any of the 51 prior, I am so blessed. Yes that might sound strange given the cancer. But what my illness has done is put a laser focus on how blessed I am. Sure I’m grateful for the “things” that make my life easier. And I’m very grateful for the timing and decision to start our own business. But mostly my blessings are people…. My wife and son and mom, the rest of my amazing family, my doctors and nurses, and the friends that continue to stand by my side. You don’t let a single day go by without reaching out. Every single day someone calls, emails, sends mail, sends some awesome thoughtful gift, visits, brings dinner… Every single day. And I’m reconnecting with friends that I hadn’t talked with in many years. I’ve even made some new friends along the way. Julian said the other day – wow you really have a lot of friends. Yes, I am THAT kind of awesomely blessed. You pray for me, you send love and light, you make me laugh, and you remind me what is really important in life. Thank you seems inadequate. I’m not sure there are words to express the depth of my gratitude. You are my gift in this journey. All of you. You make it so much easier for me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love you.

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It’s All About The Love

After first receiving the shocking news that I had some abnormalities in my lower abdomen and would be admitted to Northside Hospital, of course our first calls were to our moms. There’s just something about going to the open arms of your mother and we’re both blessed to have close relationships with ours. I can remember as a child, that skinned knee didn’t really hurt so bad until I saw my mom, then the tears came. It’s no different as an adult, and next to telling my son, telling my mom was the most difficult. My mom is 81 and in good health. As a friend of mine put it, she is truly the Southern Scarlett O’Hara – when times are rough, she becomes this giant pillar of strength and support – and she’s had her share of dramas to handle these last 20 years in particular. She immediately made plans to be at the hospital the next 2 days, dropping everything to come hold my hand. And while I know she has shed many tears for me, when she’s with me, she is a rock of faith and strength. I Am So Blessed.

It was no different with Dara’s mom, Carol. She dropped everything and drove over from Alabama to spend the next week with us. She is a retired nurse and it’s always good to have one of those in the family! She came in, cooked, cleaned, went to the grocery store and supported Dara and I in every way she could. I know having her here made this so much easier for Dara, and her love and support for me is overwhelming. I have the best in-laws. I Am So Blessed.

Our families have been amazing and I feel lifted up and supported by them all every minute of every day… My step-son Michael has been so kind. My aunt Barbara and uncle David, my aunt Strat and my sister Leslie, my cousins Brad, Cliff, and Kevin have all checked in, called, written, or visited and send up prayers for me. The entire McCord clan – fantastic in-laws who also dropped everything to be by our sides, my fabulous sister-in-law Amanda, Dara’s amazing dad, Tom and Dee. Every single one has reached out, texted, emailed, called, and even sent cards through the mail to lift me up in prayer, love, and support. I Am So Blessed.

What has perhaps been the most overwhelming for me has been the outpouring of love and support from my network of friends. Nicole came to the hospital 3 different times and only caught me in the room once, but she kept trying. Sherri was at the hospital a lot and brought me a fan which I really needed with horrible hot flashes. Candace came with her the first day too. Nancy is coming to stay with me next weekend when Dara takes Julian to a tournament – she didn’t hesitate. Allie, Ellen, Kelly, Trisha, Lisa, Jennifer, Kami, Traci – all have come by, many brought food. My bookclub is by my side. My chorus family is so supportive. Voices of Note sent beautiful flowers to the hospital that we are still enjoying. Missy came to the hospital and is consistently checking in. And a special network of survivors has come forward – all offering suggestions, and warm understanding – thank you Darlene for answering my many questions, John, Patti, Paige, and Dee for reaching out. I hesitated to post on Facebook because it is so impersonal, but in the end, I’m so glad that I did. I received hundreds of messages, both through the Facebook page and directly, and still receive them today. From my closest friends to people I haven’t seen since high school. I don’t know how many prayer lists I am on, but I am confident that this much love and the sheer volume and intensity of prayers sets in place a vibration of healing that I feel every single day. I Am So Blessed.

Of course, I can’t talk about the love and support without talking about the 2 most important people in my life, my wife (in 19 states!) and my son, Julian. Dara has always been a rock of support, but these last couple of weeks she has amazed me and made me fall in love all over again. She is so very positive that this is merely a bump in the road of our long lives together and she reminds me of that again and again. The perfect partner in life is one that lifts you up and sees more you in than you can see in yourself sometimes and she is that for me. Thank you for your unwavering love, support, and strength. This isn’t easy and being the nursemaid isn’t the most pleasant of jobs, but you lift me up and ground me. Your love lights my way on days I can’t quite get there. Thank you. Our son Julian (I am mom, Dara is Da – always been his name for her) has been amazing. This is hard for a 15 year old boy, but he asks questions and is plugged in with us. I know he is scared but between his moms and his own friend network I hope he feels supported. He likes to think he’s funnier than me, and right now he probably is, and those laughs light up my days in amazing ways. He’s promised to be my do-rag and hat consultant if I lose my hair. I Am So Blessed.

Truly, I Am So Blessed. I have definitely shed some tears in the last couple of weeks. But 90% of the time, it is because I am so touched by the loving words and actions from my family and friends. When I’m down I read and re-read those messages and feel the love. You can’t check in with me too much. You can’t see me too much. I need you. I thank you.