For me, this season of Christmas is much about fondly remembering the people who are dear to me. Some I see daily, some less frequently, and some I haven’t seen in years. No matter the lapse of time, those who are dear remain dear. That’s a wonderful thing about the heart…it has infinite space for those who have touched it.
At PearlPoint, one of the privileges of my work is getting to know the people we’ve served, interviewing them about their cancer experiences, and sharing their stories. I met Mike McConnell in 2012. Right from the start, Mike cut to the chase about his cancer diagnosis and the fact that he was defying statistics. Robust and strong, his outer strength mirrored his inner strength. Mike was a former football player and athlete on many fronts, but spoke tenderly about his family, the excellence of his medical team, the challenges of cancer, and his deep faith. Being friends with Mike was easy and instant.
We occasionally got together to have lunch, meet for coffee, and continue to compare notes on survivorship. I even convinced him he had important advice to share that would undoubtedly make someone else’s journey a little easier, a little less of a burden. Last year we captured his “pearls of wisdom” in the video shared below. I’m glad we did. It’s one of our most frequently viewed videos and sheds light on friendship and letting others help you when you need it something that is not always easy but what Mike learned to embrace. His video captures moments of candor and vulnerability. The honesty of his video is a beautiful gift to us all this holiday season.
We have learned that Mike passed away this past week, during a season of remembrances and of treasuring the people who’ve touched our hearts. The last time I saw Mike was in March. Catching up over a green tea, he surprised me by letting me know it was actually his birthday. He thanked me for treating him to a birthday tea, but really, the treat and honor were all mine.
We won’t forget Mike, our friend who shared his heart to help others. And, yes, “we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne,” remembering the kindness in Mike’s eyes and his wish to encourage others.
I hope you will share Mike’s encouragement this holiday season with someone you know who is coping with cancer.