…by Prill Boyle

When we pursue a dream, our spirits wake up. But as our hearts begin to
soar and we head off to whatever destination we\’ve chosen, it\’s vital
to remember that what\’s most important in our lives is not in the
future. It\’s here and now.

Jim McKennan knows this all too well. On June 1st he was diagnosed with
a malignant brain tumor—a complete surprise for an active and seemingly
healthy man who is the father of four school-age children. The odds are
not in his favor. But as dire as his situation is, much good has
already come from it. His family and friends have rallied around him.
“Team Jim,” they\’ve dubbed themselves. And through a wonderful
organization called “Caring Bridge” (www.caringbridge.org), a website
has been created to brief everyone on his progress. On it, Jim and his
wife Laurie are keeping a running journal documenting his course of
treatment and its side effects, both physical and emotional.
Some of the entries are heartbreaking, such as when Jim shares his
experience of Googling the medical term for his tumor. “It made for
interesting reading,” he says, “until I remembered it was about me. I
cried all night. I cried over the things I was afraid I was going to
miss…cried over the help I wasn\’t going to be able to offer…cried for
the companionship I wasn\’t going to be able to give. It was

Other entries are poignantly funny. My favorite describes Jim\’s
experience of losing his lush, silver locks—a result of his
chemotherapy. Riding in his friend\’s car with the windows open, his
hair flying everywhere, he says, “From the looks of it, I\’m going to
have one patch left in front, so I\’m going to have to cut it all
off…..Right now I look a bit like a dandelion that has gone to seed.”

Several times a day well-wishers sign the site\’s guest book, adding
their words of encouragement and wisdom. (As of this morning, there
were 3060 visits.) And once a week or so, Laurie posts new photographs
of Jim with family and friends.

From this mosaic of journal entries, well-wishers\’ expressions, and
pictures emerges a portrait of one human life, a speck of radiant
stardust surrounded by a constellation of support and caring.
Addressing his ever-growing team of champions, Jim writes: “I can\’t
begin to tell you how powerful your messages and your prayers feel to
me. They go beyond saying that you care, they do something else truly
remarkable. They keep me in the present, in today, and that simple fact
makes me feel exponentially stronger.”

Like Jim, we are all stronger than we suspect, more fragile than we
imagine. And no one knows what tomorrow will bring. Laurie says, “What
seemed impossible five weeks ago, has begun to seem routine. . . . I
don\’t know if that\’s good or bad, but that\’s how you live with this and
how you continue to find the light and stay out of the black hole of
what ifs.” A week later, she adds: “Everyone tells me to be strong. . ,
but I tell you. . , my whole being–physical, mental, emotional,
spiritual—has been stretched, turned inside-out, exhausted from this
shock and trauma. . . . And so before I get up [each morning], I want
to remember and feel that most important thing. Life itself, and the
breathing. . . . Where there\’s life there\’s hope. And that brings some
peace and comfort.”

Right now, Jim and Laurie\’s most fervent dream is for Jim\’s tumor to
disappear. But in walking towards that dream, and in doing battle with
any and everything that\’s coming in the way, they\’ve understood that
this moment is the only one they have.