One trip around the sun

One trip around the Sun

In the 584 million miles I have traveled on the earth, as it made its latest trip around the Sun, the opportunities to see and feel more life played out in the form of leaps of faith and adventures and craters of grief.

At the beginning of the earth’s long journey, some 365.256 days ago, I was in Madrid reflecting on my 70-mile trek across Northern Spain.  Tired feet and elated heart, I had gotten what I came for and more. Each day and every step wove down a metaphorical path toward a courageous ‘YES’ and further from the ‘should’ and ‘should nots’ of my former life.  I felt brave and empowered and full of spiritual connection to my soul and the world around me. My mind was more awake than it had been in nearly a decade. My heart was more open than it had ever been.

A quick buzz and my mind focused on the words from my husband – “My mom called and the doctors think something is wrong with Uncle Doug.  Leukemia?”

How could this be the punctuation for the most profound solo experience of my life? How could a 61-year-old man with a heart of (black and) gold be sick? The flight home was long, but I carried my new-found peace and I prayed the news would be better after further tests.

I will never make sense of suffering or loss but I know that it was an honor for our family to walk alongside Uncle Doug as he endured countless bone marrow biopsies, blood transfusions, long rounds of chemo, daily fevers, and too many nights at Vanderbilt to count.  My dear husband, Uncle Doug’s faithful companion for all things Pittsburgh, decorated the room with James Connor’s Steelers jersey and Pitt memorabilia to brighten the spirits of a man fighting for time.

49 days ago that time was up.

You hear people talk about the passage of time and all the reasons to live your best life but when you experience the grasping and bargaining for more time, you realize how fleeting it all really is… how little say we have in the miles we will travel, the times we get to wonder at the falling of the sun into the ocean waters and the number of days we get to open our eyes and make plans for the future.

People have kindly told us how sorry they are for our loss.

Personally, I am so grateful for our gain.  Without all the love freely given to us by Uncle Doug, we wouldn’t be who we are today.  The pain of our grief is single thimble compared to the ocean of love he poured over us and the lesson his life teaches us.

In pain and sorrow, we must remember how much we truly gain along these trips around the sun.



  • Heather Kilpatrick
    Posted at 05:34h, 31 October Reply

    This is so beautifully written. Doug was so very special. There will never be another. His life was touched so many. I was so fortunate to have known him all of his life. Some days I feel so empty. I miss him so much.
    Love was his essence.

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