OPINION: Hitting ‘Resume’
Two weekends ago brought about a long-awaited goodbye, as well as similarly anticipated hello’s for me personally.
My Aunt Kathie passed away after a 15-year battle with cancer last year. Despite her being a matriarch in our family, COVID-19 prevented those who loved her from being able to gather for a proper celebration of life. For anyone who has also lost a loved one in the past year-plus of the pandemic, you know the difficulty of having to at least consider limiting attendance or not attending a funeral yourself. There has been that well known but rarely vocalized tension of “we don’t want to be having another funeral in a month” hanging over such gatherings.
With vaccines now widely available, we were finally able to congregate while dressed in brightly colored attire (in accordance with Kathie’s wishes). The weekend was one I had been looking forward to for weeks after getting vaccinated as an opportunity to hit “resume” on aspects of my life that had been paused since last March.
Those three days also included time with family, attending a friend’s baby shower, distributing some groomsman gifts to a couple of guys in my wedding next year and attending a Milwaukee Brewers game. I mused to my fiancée Claire that the jam-packed couple days were almost a “victory over COVID” weekend after a year of largely conscious isolation.
However the most meaningful event to me was the opportunity at the funeral home to share an excerpt of an award acceptance speech from the late ESPN commentator Stuart Scott, who also passed of cancer in 2015. In the last year of his life while receiving the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance for his public ongoing battle with cancer at the time, Scott said:
“When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live.”
To me this quote perfectly encapsulated my Aunt Kathie’s fight. Not a battle lost, but a lifetime of victories that came in many forms. Each moment with her grandchildren, each time she greeted a visitor with a warm smile and made them feel like the most important person in the room and experiences like going to Potawatomi Casino fresh off a treatment were just a few of the examples of how she beat the hell out of cancer.
Her illustration of a faith-based life continues to inspire me as I begin to hit “resume” on everything from in-person meeting coverage to family gatherings to Brewers games. All who loved her carry on with how we live, why we live and the manner in which we live.