For the past few years the time following the ESPY awards have been a rough time for me. Not because of months of just baseball that we all must go through but because of the constant replays of a speech from 1993. It was on a night in March of 1993 that the vibrant and charismatic coach of the NC State Wolfpack who had been fighting a very public battle with cancer stepped up, visibly weakened and given assistance to the podium and once he was in front of the microphone he appeared stronger as the lights shone on him and he gave the most inspiring speech I have ever heard in all my days. If you haven't heard it I suggest you give it a listen and prepared to be awed.
I was struck by this line this speech: "Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind,
it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three
things are going to carry on forever." Hearing this reminds me of my sweet, funny, genuine aunt Priscilla who is no longer with us but she lived her life by this statement. I have written many times about her so guess what I'll write about her again. I am reminded of her many times a day, and whenever I hear Jimmy V's speech I am struck by the similarities.
The last time I saw my aunt, visibly weakened, she saw the fear, anger and pain in my eyes at what cancer had done to my beautiful aunt and she smiled and she began cracking jokes at how I actually took a day off work to come see her. She used her humor to let me know that while she may not be around as long as I wanted her to be, she would always be with me. I said few words for fear of breaking down and crying like a child but I was able to tell her I loved her one last time, and as I turned to leave the room she said my name and as every interaction from the time I was a small child to that exact moment she said these words, "you know you my favorite right? Just don't tell the others, they might get jealous." She laughed and smiled and motioned me out the door.
That interaction with her, how she put my feelings over her own physical weakness, her own impending mortality and that was PJ. That was her mind, heart and soul checking more for my well being than the fear she had to be experiencing at that moment.
I write all this I suppose as a way to say I miss my aunt. Today more than other days. To all people battling this horrible disease stay strong. To those lost, strides are being made in your memory everyday.
This past week Stuart Scott had his "Jimmy V" moment. I'll end with his beautiful speech.
“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.”