In the grand scheme of things, my life started over on February 11, 2015, the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer. That was the day I declared a reset, a pivot, a switcheroo, a 180. You know, those ceaseless Covid-19 descriptors that remind us we were forever changed.
During lunch on the first day of pandemic lockdown on March 16, 2020—two hours after I drove to the safety of home from the Bye Aerospace office with a passenger seat full of files and my company laptop computer—I told Rene the panic of watching the world shut down was exactly how I felt after receiving the cancer phone call. My gut was gurgling with anxiety, I couldn’t concentrate, and I wondered if the human race would survive the virus, let alone each other.
Here’s what I did in the early days of lockdown to feel better:
Finally watched Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness on Netflix because, well, everyone was talking about it. I remember thinking, “What the hell did we just watch?”
Flash forward 16 months, and here we are. Digging out and figuring it out. Some are thriving, while others are understandably depressed, afraid, paranoid, and angry. Some say our country wasn’t ready for a pandemic. Well, I wasn’t ready for cancer either, but I hashed out a plan in record time. I had to. Failure was simply not an option.
Where am I at today? I’m at giddy. I got a second chance at living twice in five years. Cancer helped me achieve clarity, but Covid-19 got things exceedingly clear in my head. And in my heart. The cover photo for this post is from 2015, a display in what we call our “piano bar” of all the cards I received during my 10 months of cancer treatment. They were my inspiration, and they helped make sure I kept moving forward.
I see boundless passion and ambition from those who were similarly impacted by the pandemic. Some are launching new career trajectories, others are working on business plans, while many are taking the time and doing the work to heal from emotional scars created by the tragedy. Please keep working! And know there is a world full of individuals—including me—who are rooting for you.
Rene and I have an evergreen tree in our front yard that helps us meet our neighborhood’s HOA’s requirement to have at least two evergreen trees in the front yard of every residence. We live in unincorporated Highlands Ranch, Colorado, which is a “planned community,” not an official city governed by a mayor or some form of city council. Order is maintained by adhering to rules set and enforced by the Highlands Ranch Community Association, and police and fire services are contracted out, which works surprisingly well. One of the newer regulations is the declaration of an official paint color for all residential perimeter wood fences in Highlands Ranch, appropriately called “Highlands Ranch Fence Brown.” I’m not kidding — you can check it out here.
About eight years ago, the evergreen tree I speak of in our front yard started dying from the bottom up. The top half was still healthy and green, so I asked our lawn service to remove the dead limbs from the bottom because I wanted to see if it could be saved. Jon, who owned the lawn service at the time, thought it was an even more outrageous request than unusual coming from me, but he complied. The tree looked silly, but it met the requirements.
Then, a few years ago, pine needles started growing on the stumps of the lower branches. At left is what it looks like today.
Second chances. We all have them right in front of us. Grab one or more and press down as hard as you can on the gas pedal (or accelerator pedal if you drive an electric car). Be like Maggie, the miraculous therapy dog, who beat the odds and survived a horrific situation and now brings hope and comfort to others.
Since I can’t end on a rainbows and unicorns note all the time, Denver’s AM 1430 KEZW radio station switched formats in late January to sports. No more Carpenters songs, no more geezer quiz, no more Colorado by Up with People at 7 a.m. on Fridays. I was sad and melancholy that another staple in my life abruptly came to an end, but I mainly felt bad for Rick Crandall, whose position was eliminated.
I was not surprised, though, when he immediately began reinventing himself and finding even more ways to serve others. Cuz that’s what we do. Rick is resilience at its finest.
By the way, there’s no Highlands Ranch Fence Brown at our house. Nope, our perimeter fence is wrought iron, painted black. I wonder what would happen if we painted it brown?
To making your second chapter even better than the first,