Fight Like Mike Friday
April 3, 2019
We fully surrender.
For the past 4 years , I have desperately wanted the world we live in to slow down.
One early spring day in late April 2016 , Mike and I were unexpectedly jerked off of earth and placed on a frightening but life changing unfamiliar planet.
Planet cancer , where time stood still and perspective was blinding. Where we learned that love is all that matters. Where we learned to trust . To hope. To feel joy in the small things. To live moment by moment. Surrendering to whatever came next. Where we learned we were not in control.
We also were gifted so much time together in these four years on planet cancer. And for that I am grateful.
At the same time ,we were forced to continue to have one foot still on earth. We often felt like we were running a rat race to keep up. Completely exhausted. With limitations that kept us in what felt like our own quarantine at times.
And now , for the most terrible reason , the world has slowed down. And I would give anything to spend the slow months with Mike .
But for some unknown reason at the same time the world slows , our journey together on planet cancer has ended.
And I am so sad.
Mike fought like hell.
“ he never complained “ . If I have heard it once , I have heard it a million times over the past years.
But over the past few days especially.
He never did. I wish so bad I could have taken his place , as so many others did too. He had a love for life like no one I know. And was so good at living.
Nothing stopped him from truly living in these horrific days of suffering .
And this is true because everywhere I look in our home and outside I see him and reminded of his courageous will to dance in the rain. In every project he completed with love and determination while waiting for a scan , a procedure , and before or after an appointment.
I see him in our back yard as the kids have climbed the rock wall these past few days more than ever. He asked for no sedation at his biopsy that morning so he go home and help build it for Jakes 6th birthday.
I see him every time I slide our barn door to the laundry room that he painted , stained , and installed the week before his transplant.
I hear him when I turn on our disposal in our sink, he laid on the ground for two hours replacing it at 10 o’clock at night after we got home from a late afternoon pet scan. I see him on our roof blowing leaves , when he had a grapefruit sized fungus growing in his lungs , and when I pullout our double trash cans he installed while waiting out the 100 days from transplant to get back to work.
I see him in the extra oxygen tanks we drove to pick up last week and that he drug to the kids basketball games. I see him in his shoe collection from trunk club placed in his closet on the shelves beneath his medical supplies , dressing changes , alcohol pads , and everything he thought he might need to keep himself from an infection.
I see him in his heavy blue water bottle still sitting on our nightstand , he used everyday and took it to every appointment the past three years. I think I have a permanent crick in my neck from how heavy it made my purse at times. I see him in every bottle of lotion sitting on every table of our house. We should have bought stock in lotion.
I see him in our refrigerator, where his bags of micafungin lay left next to packs of bacon. And on the freezer door where serum eye drops made from his own blood sit next to the popsicle. He searched for a doctor that would make these to help his eyes from feeling like they were being clawed when open , just so he could keep working .
I see him in the remote controls left on the dining room tables he ordered from amazon just six days before he died to try and fix our ceiling fan in the living room so I could have light to work on puzzles.
I saw him In my purse yesterday as I picked it up to go to the funeral home. The purse he bought me for my birthday last year , from a company he heard of through shark tank . He has seen every episode of shark tank.
And I see him inside the purse as I see his last printed set of labs from Winship and the wrapper from his granola bar he ate while we waited for results from his pet scan.
I see him in Emma . His loyal dog of 14 years , who never left his side these past few weeks.
I see him in Pearl every time she nudges me to get out of bed. The happiest puppy there ever was . Who became ours after he lost a bet with the breeder when the saints lost to the packers. We had jointly decided that morning to wait to add more chaos to our lives. I’m so glad he knew better.
And Nancy and I said just this week that we see him in
Graham’s smile , people loving ,life of the party spirit .
Celia’s strong will , determination , and everything Louisiana personality.
And in Jakes kind heart, who has a soft heart for everyone..
And on and on and on ... he is everywhere and I thank God for that , even as painful as it is right now.
Everyday to the fullest.
He never worried about what would come next. He accomplished
so much while being SO sick.
He never let his disease stop him or never used it as an excuse.
And when it did physically limit him , mentally he NEVER once had self pity for himself. He never felt sorry for himself. It is truly amazing.
He just did what his body allowed him and was content with just that.
It was enough.
Even the days leading up to his passing , when he was too weak to hardly sit up we would ask him if he was in pain or needed anything . He would genuinely reply - I’m ok. He must have said in hundreds of time. I’m ok.
And I have to believe he was.
He pretty much trusted Doctor Kota and left the rest to God.
It was an honor to be his wife. An honor to take care of him. An honor to watch him live life to the fullest. I will never have a greater gift.
He has taught me how to live.
And I am trying so so hard right now to remember that when I feel so completely heartbroken. And when I miss him and his contagious smile so much it physically hurts. When I keep thinking he is still here and I need to tell him one more funny thing J, C, and G did. When I need him as my sounding board for every decision. Each step hurts , each cell in my body hurts.
I am trying to think about how he would be right now if the roles were reversed.
But it is not easy to live like him. To live through the pain with a smile like he did . And that is why I believe he was put on this earth to teach us how to do that. Teach us how to live.
I am trying , but I will never be able to do life like him.
I love what a counselor and dear friend told me in the past couple weeks.
It is not me having to let go of Mike , it is in him becoming part of me.
And he has.
This journey and Mike will always be the biggest part of my heart.
They have changed me.
Over the last week, every night I promised him two things.
First that I would make sure I told Jake , Celia , and Graham each day how much he loved them. That we would talk about him everyday and that they would know him as if he was here. Because his spirit is. They know he lives in their hearts.
I promised I would take care of them and be strong for them.
I also promised him I would continue to beat the shit out of cancer for him.
I often hear people say cancer patients won their battle against cancer.
After watching Mike battle cancer from the front row, I am not sure I believe that.
I believe like Anna, our preacher , said this morning , that he did win with God.
He was always on his side.
She said he never lost hope in a hopeless fight .
But cancer ...I’m not convinced.
If anyone could have beat it ,it would have been him.
But cancer is evil and ugly and has no mercy on anyone.
So I promised Mike I/we would finish that battle for him.
And I will continue to raise money , share love , and do whatever it takes to make sure some other family doesn’t have to swim in these rough water.
I’m saying that with the prayer that you all will not let me stay down.
And you will hold me accountable to the promises I made to him. I know I will need help in my weakness.
Mike passed away peacefully in his sleep early Sunday morning.
And I pray one day I will be able to share more about all the beautiful moments of grace from God that transpired in our home that morning as we were surrounded by our favorite people who love us the very most. I am grateful for each of them , they individually are pulling me through these days in their own unique ways. I am forever grateful. And my heart breaks for each person losing loved ones, during this time and can’t be with them. I can’t imagine.
But for now just this story.
Celia had spent the night at the Air BNB with our siblings and cousins. So that morning we debated on bringing her home or if I should go talk to her there. However I kept feeling the need to go to her.
We sat in the driveway out front. And we talked about her daddy. We both cried and said that we wished so bad he hadn’t died. I told her that daddy lived in her heart , the same way we told her that every time we were away at the hospital. I told her she has a special angel following her everywhere she goes. Who will always keeps her safe.
We looked to our right and there was a yard full of dandelions.
My heart felt lighter when I saw them. Here was my reminder to keep surrendering.
We went and picked some and made wishes and prayed to God together.
As we blew them into the air we wished and prayed that daddy would always let us know he was with us .
Not two minutes later a red cardinal flew across us. And sweet Celia said , “ there is he is , he heard us. “
Please keep showing us you are with us , Mike. We miss you so bad already. Especially all the ways you made me laugh and made fun of the ridiculous things I did. You made me feel better , loved, and at ease in any situation and in every moment. And I feel so lost already without the security blanket of love you were to me.
I found this picture of him earlier this week. And put it on my screen saver.
I texted it to Dr. Kota. As I felt the absence of Mike in the absence of needing to text him with a question about mike. In the picture he is living and cooking, and looking at me like I have lost my damn mind.
This look was my favorite .
I feel he’s telling me to stop crying and go do something.
So go live !
Fight like Mike always. Forever.
Our dear friend Kay Stewart wrote a beautiful tribute to Mike that you can find at
We are not able to have a service at this time but did have a small simple immediate family service that was so beautiful and I feel Mike would have loved the day so much.
I think Mike may have gotten his wish in that way. He has always only been worried for Jake , Celia , and Graham and didn’t want to put them through any added pain. And this strange situation is giving us the grace of time in these difficult days to honor that as well.
In the mean time, please also send letters to our kids/ family as you can and want with stories and memories of you and Mike. How you knew him, what you loved about him , funny stories , whatever comes to mind. Whatever you think our kids should know about him as they grow up. We would love to compile a journal for them to have.
I have been slowly reading some of the ones already sent. And I can not thank you enough. They bring tears, laughter, joy, and heartache for longing to have him still here with me.
You can email these memories to fightlikemike5 @gmail.com
Our lives have been touched by each of you deeply on this journey and the years before. The ways you are still loving on me and our kids and family is pulling me through these painful days. I promise , I will also thank each of you in time. I am forever grateful.
“My life is not about me. It is about God. It is about a willing participation in a larger mystery. At this time, we do this by not rejecting or running from what is happening but by accepting our current situation and asking God to be with us in it. Paul of Tarsus said it well: “The only thing that finally counts is not what human beings want or try to do, but the mercy of God” (Romans 9:16). Our lives are about allowing life to “be done unto us,” which is Mary’s prayer at the beginning and Jesus’ prayer at the end.
from Richard Rhor’s meditation