The Changes You Never Saw Coming
Losing Marcia, my wife of 14 years was incredibly difficult. Her absence created a real void in my life, and suddenly nothing seemed as important as my family. Of course, life-events like this change people. It certainly changed me, and as a result, my perspective became different regarding life and how to move forward.
It’s funny how change and resolve work. You make a decision to change one thing in your life and, all of a sudden, you see everything else as changeable too. Nothing felt permanent except for my family. Nothing felt certain except for my determination for and dedication to them. I made the decision to change work, and by doing that, everything else seemed to be up for grabs. I don’t know if that is growth or grief, but it is important and profound. I knew it would take time, but I needed to begin moving in a new direction – personally and professionally.
I wanted to honor Marcia in ways she would be remembered, so we established several scholarships funds in her honor as well as multiple charity donations. Our biggest focus was on a $500,000 endowment fund for a local charity in Marcia’s memory to support the work she loved doing for the community—children, education, family—the kinds of things she had immersed herself in to build our life in Dallas while I focused on work. It gave us—the boys, me, and Marcia’s family—something to focus on, a way to channel our grief and the feeling of being lost into something positive. I think part of me thought that this would be what life was like for a while—family, community, business—that these things alone would be enough for me. I didn’t have expectations beyond that, but it’s never the things that you expect that make the biggest dent in your conception of the world. It’s the ones you don’t see coming.
Then Cathy happened.
It’s not like I had been trolling or even looking. I had played on Match.com now and again but never had a date since the day I set up my profile. On one of my lonely days of searching the dating site, I suddenly received a “wink,” indicating that someone was interested in me. She was beautiful, a single mom to two girls. She lived in Plano, about seven miles away, and she worked in the safety industry.
I knew in my gut; this was someone significant. I could feel that she’d be someone who would forever change my life in a way I hadn’t even anticipated. I remember experiencing that familiar feeling in my gut, that sudden resolve that had led me from high school to college, to X-ray school, to Dallas, to Florida, to entrepreneurism. Every decision that has significantly shaped my life was made in an instant. No fretting. No pacing back and forth and making lists of pros and cons. Simple, clear, steely resolve. In a matter of seconds, I decided to wink back at her, but I knew I needed to be careful. It wasn’t just me, James, the redneck from Laurel, anymore. There were the boys to consider. They had lost their mom. And Budd, my best friend and father-in-law, and the rest of Marcia’s family.
It took only a few months for Cathy and me to go from being strangers connected by an algorithm to something more serious, and we continued our relationship for almost three years before having a wedding for the ages. With her, I not only experienced the change I had been seeking professionally in the way of new business ventures, but she became my new partner, helping me personally and professionally transform into who I am today.
We don’t look back at our lives and see the moments when we failed. We look back and see the moments when we overcame, no matter the odds. It’s not our failures or our successes that get us to where we are. Nor is it the lucky breaks, the big wins, or the random moments. We get to the present moment in our lives—any moment in our lives—by getting up in the morning and getting to work. Resilience is always the best course. Persistence is always the way. Determination is always omnipotent. Deciding to show up time and time again yields opportunities and results – often ones you could have never seen coming like, my Cathy.