Tuesday, April 16, 2013

#430: Happy Birthday, Pennsy

Fat Man Sitting

Well, young man, you made it.Three years ago today the doc told you that the lump in your neck was cancer. He said he'd gotten everything he could find. Remember? You thought to yourself, "Wow, that was easy. Cancer isn't such a big deal after all."

April 15, 2010
You've lost a lot since that day. In many ways, you're the same guy you always were. Still pretty selfish. Still love the sound of your own voice a bit too much. Still get depressed sometimes. Death passed you by, but that dark, Presbyterian soul of yours still gravitates toward the shadows rather than the bright sunlight. The temper is still there, lurking. The ego, too. Still want to be the smartest guy in the room. The radiation killed the cancer, but it couldn't kill your pride.

Fat Man Shrinking
But you've gained a lot.. You have a new body. Slimmer. Stronger. Yes, your neck looks a little weird, and there's a hole where the doc cut away a lot of muscle tissue, but from the neck down, you're a new man.  Your face has changed, too. There are cheekbones and a chin where big, round pillows of fat used to hang. The mouth looks a little smaller over your false teeth. The beard is a lot whiter, and there are a couple of places under the jaw where it doesn't really grow any more.

After the Pittsburgh Marathon
You have a new heart, too. You've been looking all your life for a way to help people; a way to change the world. You have that now. They come to you, looking for help. Sometimes they need someone to push them. Other times, they just need someone to listen. You used to wait for payday to tell you why you went to work. Now, you get paid every day. You know why you're alive. You have a purpose. You are a warrior.

You've done things you never even dreamed of. Before, if anyone had told you you could run a marathon, you would have thought it was a cruel joke. You love people for who they are. You still judge sometimes, but more often than not, you see the light under their brokenness. You're a better man, a better son, a better friend, a better husband than you ever were before cancer came into your life.

There are some tough things, too. The teeth are a hassle. You get tired a lot faster. People are always telling you what an inspiration you are, how your story gives them hope and strength. That's a lot to carry on one good shoulder. You worry about what would happen if you ever fall under the weight of all that love.

During your treatment, you once asked a friend, "What if I live through all this, and come out the same asshole I always was?" She smiled. "Don't worry about that. This will change you." And she was right. You have something that you never knew before.

You have joy.
Fat Man Running

Some burdens will always be with you. There will be hard times and losses and disappointments. People will keep getting sick, and some of them will die. Friends will come and go and you will grieve loosing them. The shadows will always be there.

But so will the light.

That doesn't come from you. You know that, now. The light is a gift from God. It is a reflection of the love that people shine on you every day. Mrs P. Coach. Mum. Christy, Steve. Sandy. LaDonna. It would take hours to list them all. You glow in their light and your joy is their mirror. If you are different, it is because you have finally learned how to let their light shine from you. You can't do it on your own. But they can do it for you. And they do.

Happy birthday, Fat Man. You were saved from death for a reason, and that reason reveals itself to you every day. Keep serving it. Keep loving. Keep living. God has more work for you to do. Keep working.

Your race is a long way from being finished, son.

Run on, Fat Man. Run on.


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