"To walk ahead and leave the pain behind…"
Dateline: Toledo Bend
And with that, the tears began to roll down my cheeks.
Salt water filled my Costas.
Because today as I stood on a dock above the sweet water of Toledo Bend, I punched in.
6:30 a.m., June 7, 2012…I punched the time clock and once again became just a working stiff.
And not just a guy with cancer.
At 6:30 a.m., June 7, 2012…I punched in, not just for me, but for the millions of men and women on this planet battling cancer who just want to get their lives back.
Who just want to be people.
And not just patients.
For all of you who secretly whisper, screw you cancer, this punch in,
was for you.
This punch in was to remind all those folks who work to save us, who beam radiation at us, who send chemicals through our veins, who give us our shots,
forget not our souls.
Just four short weeks ago, 69 radioactive seeds were implanted in my cancerous prostate.
The procedure will either save my life, or it will not. Chances are extremely good that everything will be fine.
Years from now, doctors, researchers, cancer experts and possibly even my own family will point to those 69 seeds, and the fact we caught the disease early on through a PSA test, as what saved my life.
And, if indeed my life has been saved, I want to make sure this is on the record as well.
6:30 a.m., June 7, 2012, to me, TO ME, is what saved my life.
The moment I punched in.
The moment I showed up to work because it is in fact my job to.
Because it was at that exact moment when I showed MYSELF, I had the soul of a working stiff.
And that the disease, will never take my soul.
"…If the days aren't easy and the nights are rough…"
At the Bassmaster Elite Series registration, I was standing alone in a corner soaking up the air conditioning. I was tired, expected that, but had really underestimated what the heat and humidity would do to me.
Pound the bejesus out of me is what it does.
So I was standing in a downdraft.
When she came up to me.
A woman I know.
She came up to me, and touched my arm, and all she said was this, "I know."
I looked at her, and said, "Know what."
"Know how you feel, I've never told anyone outside my family, never said anything at all to anyone, but I know exactly how you feel….I've had cancer…twice."
And with that, her hand gently squeezed my arm…and with that, came her story.
Told in whispers.
Told in gentle grasps of my arm.
I told her that I was going to be okay, that WE were going to be okay and it was then that I knew that a disease that was trying to weaken us was actually making us stronger.
One gentle arm grasp at a time.
I thought he just wanted a photograph.
A picture with me and him together…maybe an autograph as well.
So I put my arm around him, as he did me, and I smiled. The perfect Facebook pose. As soon as the photo was taken I started to move away, except he did not.
He held on, and started talking.
Talking about how he works as an EMT…about how in his job he sometimes has to move cancer patients from a hospital to hospice.
And he told me how much it hurts him to do so.
He told me of the patients, and one who wanted not to die in a hospital, but at home….."and we took her there, to her house, her home, and her family, and the next day she died…"
All the while he never let go of me.
So I turned to the stranger and I said, "Dude, you did the right thing…" and in a whisper I'm not sure he heard I said gently, "You didn't bring her to her death, you brought her to her life."
And he gave me a gentle hug, and let go of my side.
And I hope, let go of the lady who rode to hospice in his ambulance.
And I left registration.
"…when they ask you what you're thinking of…"
This morning, before take off, I walked the docks.
Congratulated some anglers who were doing well this season, consoled others doing not so well.
Told them, that every time they go out on the lake, go out NEW.
Go out virgin.
Bring your experience, but listen to your soul.
Listen, to the lake, the lake will tell you what it wants, not the other way around.
"You know db, we should all learn to be more impatient." From Charlie Hartley, a good friend who always has a smile for me, "the lake will tell you what you are doing wrong, but it will also tell you right quick what you are doing right…if you listen."
What if the universe has a soul,
and we, are living on it.
That earth, and those on it, are the soul of the entity.
I believe, that to be possible.
I believe it, because of a dude named Ron.
I was just standing alone at the end of the dock.
Standing in the magic moment when night becomes dawn. Those few seconds when everything is possible, when the earth shows us, there is a second chance, that NEW comes wrapped in the orange and red of sunrise.
When a large man walks up to me.
Tells me his name is Ron, tells me he works for a Sheriff’s Department somewhere in Louisiana.
I turn to look at him, smile, and then turn to watch NEW break out over the lake.
From my right side comes this, "db, you know I ain't into gambling…"
First came the red.
"…don't use no tobacco products…"
Second came the orange.
"….only drink beer some…"
Then came the blue.
"…bass fishin', that's my thing db, bass fishin' been good to me…"
Came the reds, came the oranges, came the blues. Came sunrise to Toledo Bend.
"…I got to say, db it's my passion…and you know you got to have passion, got to have passion in your life…love."
As the sun took to the sky, I smiled, thanked Ron, shook his hand, and walked down the dock.
And punched in.
Punched in for me, punched in for all of us who now take the time to watch the sunrise.
Punched in for all of us who listen to the lake.
Punched in for all of us, who listen to our soul.
Our soul that says…
"…say love, say for me love."
Living of Love
The Avett Brothers