Honoring Steven ~ 2018
How do I begin to adequately honor a man who taught me and continues to teach me so much about living and dying?
Today marks four years since Steven passed.
Today, I honor him.
Steven was only 43 when he was diagnosed with glioblastoma brain cancer...a former marine in the prime of his life enjoying every day with his beautiful family. As you can imagine, his diagnosis came as a shock to all of us, especially him and his wife.
Why was this happening, and what did it mean for Steven?
One thing was for sure. He was still alive and wanted to live and experience every moment he had. He lived and loved every moment life offered.
Was Steven perfect? No. None of us are perfect. However, I have never seen anyone face dying with more grace and beauty. He never lost sight of who he was.
On February 13, 2014 during the last days of Steven’s life, I wrote in a journal, “Glioblastoma brain cancer is a horrible, nasty disease that robs a man of the use of his body and eventually his life; however, what it cannot do is steal a man's character, honor, grace, and valor. Steven has not in any moment lost who he is! He is a man who is constantly more concerned about everyone else but himself, who constantly thanks those caring for him, who fights bravely without complaint! I'm so honored and humbled by this man!”
He underwent extensive surgery, various treatments including a study treatment, and gave it his all to fight the cancer in his body in order to spend more time with his precious family. He also recognized the fragility of life. He had the family document his journey through pictures and videos so that we would all remember him and his brave battle. And he used every moment he had to let those that mattered to him know how much he loved them.
Did it suck that he got cancer? Yes! Cancer f@ck!ng sucks. And it is okay to acknowledge that it sucks. At one point while caring for him during the last days of his life, I got so angry at the cancer in his body that I lost it.
Why was this man, a loving father and husband, young, beautiful soul dying from this nasty, horrible disease? I went into the living room of his house and just lost it. A dear loved one grabbed me and let me sob and swear aloud at the cancer killing Steven. It was so hard to understand in that moment.
Why? Why did Steven have to face this and die from it?
After I moved through the anger and anguish I felt in that moment, I walked back into Steven’s bedroom only to have him crack a joke with me...to bring me back to the moment...to know it simply was the moment we were in. It was what we all, especially Steven, were facing. And there he was, cracking jokes! :-)
Steven was Steven until his last breath.
As I have been diving deeper into building my life coaching practice and studying thanatology (the study of death), I often hear the phrase, “to die well”. And, it is often stated that we die the way we lived.
I believe Steven did.
Some may disagree based on the fact that Steven faced horrific cancer, but I believed he died well. In my point of view, it wasn’t the disease that was at the forefront...it was about Steven and how he lived. He lived every moment even with all its imperfections, messiness, pain, and beauty.
Even in dying, we are living.
When Steven knew he was approaching the end, he told his wife that as she moved forward in life without him and faced moments that felt unbearable for her to look up.
I think of that often when I am struggling with what I am facing in the current moment. I look up. And, I smile because I think of Steven and all the beauty that is held in the contrast of life. I allow grace and beauty to wash over me.
Steven loved life...he reveled in the joy of life.
Today, I honor him. This life’s work that I am building all started because of the beautiful experience I shared with him and the impact he made on my life.
To help me honor him today, listen to Pharrell’s Happy and have a random dance party. Grab your friends, family, pet, or just dance with yourself! This will honor the spirit of Steven. I’ve done this the past three years as well as today always with a glass of scotch in hand to toast this beautiful man!
On this day, honor everyone in your life that has passed from this world. Honor them. Honor yourself and the life you are living.
“Look up!” ~ Steven