From the grave to grace is a short read. The sun was shining as 250 plus people started to her gravesite from behind the horse-drawn hearse. As they carried her casket to the grave, an A chord began across the strings of my friend’s fiddle. Then it moved from the D to the G back to the D, then to the Bm. On this note, I cried as I heard, “wretch like me” hum through my tears. Nothing finalizes finality like seeing your wife lowered 6 feet in the ground as you realize all the struggles(s) we went through to beat these tumors just vanished into thin air. What remained was the cold hard reality that my life would never be the same again.
I grew up a pentecostal kid. When the doors at the church were unlocked, we were there. I struggled to be a good Christian boy. I never felt I was doing enough right to stay in God’s good grace. It was as if he was always there looking to punish me for my sins. As a child, I was frightened as hell that I would not get into Heaven when I died. The childhood years meandered on, and I struggled with my faith. I finally threw up my hands and said, “to heck with this!” When I turned 18, I moved out and never looked back. That was the last time I attended a church regularly.
Moved from Oklahoma to Dallas in 1996 and formed a band. One band led to another, then to another, until I formed the most debaucherous band, Speedtrucker. We had some success, but we had more “good times” than was allowed by law. I pushed through my early 20’s and 30’s living as a carefree musician, dabbling in mildly successful businesses in between binges. I was basically living the feelgood big city dream with no regard to my childhood upbringing. I had become a staunch agnostic and had convinced myself that it’s foolish that someone could define God.
In 2005, I met Lindy at Adair’s Saloon, a place Speedtrucker played often. In hindsight, it is actually a great meeting story. I was walking past the cigarette machine on my way to the bar. Lindy was leaning against it with her friends. I honestly barely noticed her. She then grabbed my arm and asked me, “Are you the lead singer of Speedtrucker?” I lifted my chest, tipped my beat-up Stetson hat back, and said, “you know who I am?” She blushed and batted her eyes and said, ” I had never kissed the lead singer of a band before,” all the while, she kept batting her eyelashes. I pulled down my hat, grabbed her soft hand, and pulled her out back of the bar. I let down a tailgate, we sat down and made out like a couple of teenagers in heat. After we pried ourselves apart, I asked her what she thought of my band? With a hubristic reply, ” I have never heard your band; my friends just dared me to do this!” That stung a little. She told me her name was Lindy, gave me her number and told me to call her sometime. This girl was attractive! Blond, fit, perfect everything, “wow” is all I could say. All might have been perfect had I been in a place to pursue someone. My heart was still broken from a recent breakup.
I had no interest in getting my heart broken again by anyone. I had just gotten out of a four-year relationship with a girl who lied to me for three years, saying that we would get married. She knew all along; she would never defy her parents, and I was not what they wanted their daughter to marry. Lindy didn’t stand a chance after this girl destroyed my trust in women. After a year of Lindy chasing me, the tides turned. I now found myself head-over-heals chasing her. Boy, was she hard to catch! She made me chase after her for about 2 1/2 years until 2008. We finally decided we were in love with each other, been through enough, and it was time to get serious.
In 2009, Lindy was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma brain tumor and given 12 months or less. Within weeks of her first diagnosis, we went to Duke for a second opinion; the second opinion was even worse. They had upgraded her tumor to stage 4. She cried for the first time. Lindy is one strong woman, and tears rarely found their way to her face. I had determined right then and there that she wouldn’t go through this as a single woman and that she would want for nothing. I had already started a job at the end of 2008 that would more than support her lifestyle, and I was committed to helping her create a worry-free home environment.
I proposed to her in Jackson Square in New Orleans later that year with the biggest ring money can buy, the money I didn’t have at all. We planned to get married in August 2010 in Italy, and that’s just what we did despite the 12-month death sentence. We got married on Lake Como, Italy, in a fairytale-like dream, and we spent almost a month, after the ceremony, traveling all of Italy.
Three weeks after Lindy’s original diagnosis, she started fundraising for the National Brain Tumor Society by doing the DFW Brain Tumor Walk. With only 3-4 weeks to fundraise, as opposed to the other teams who had three months, Lindy was the #1 team and individual fundraiser that year and every year for 2010-2013. The first year the team theme and shirts were “The Walk for Jacque.” She named all of her tumors after Frenchmen. Not sure why, but Jacque was her first tumor she beat and the one that would eventually come back and kill her.
February 6, 2013, Lindy lost her fight with Jacque. She spent the last 26 of her 37 days on earth in a rehab hospital trying to regain her motor, speech, and occupational skills. She was sent home when they told me there was nothing more they could do. Her last MRI showed that the tumor had spread everywhere. She spent 11 days in our home under hospice care. The morning she passed away, I ran out the back door, through our gate, and started walking the path the city is cutting near our house to White Rock Lake. I didn’t care that it was starting to rain. Crying and confused, the sun seemed to find my face when it peeked through the clouds as if almost her saying good-bye. At that moment, I had realized that walking was very cathartic for me. I had remembered a movie I had seen a few years prior (as I see about five movies a week at the theater, no joke) about a walk in Spain called The Way. I remember I felt a connection to this movie but never knew why it impacted me so much out of the 100’s of movies I have seen, but it connected.
We buried Lindy a week after she died. During that week, I thought a lot about that movie, walking, getting away, and grieving by myself. While looking for any last wishes she could have written for the funeral, I found a can in one of her bottom drawers, and it had $8000 cash in it. In a very livid minute, my mind swirled to this walk in Spain. I took that money as a sign that I needed to go to Spain. Three days after she was buried, I was on a flight to Barcelona. I had zero clue about what I was doing. I just went. (EDT)