Five years ago, my entrepreneurship teacher sat me down on a bench and told me he believed in me. He gave me the courage to write my first book.
I always had a heart for writing and reading, but I never thought anyone would want to read what I had to say. He proved me wrong. This teacher told me I had a voice and that if I worked hard and believed in myself, I really could do anything.
This teacher and I always had this unique connection – we got each other. After I graduated high school, he became my mentor. Then he became like a second father to me.
We traveled together, spoke at events together, discussed our views of the world, laughed together, and cried together.
Throughout my entrepreneurial efforts, I always turned to him for business advice. I didn’t feel comfortable doing anything risky if he hadn’t weighed in his opinion about it.
Because of him, I have had opportunities to speak all over the country, included in strategic planning meetings for CEO (Creating Entrepreneurs Opportunity,) and even flew to New York City to be behind the scenes on Fox and Friends.
Not only did he believe in me, but he was honest with me. Those two traits don’t always come hand in hand. He told me the truth even when I didn’t want to hear it. When I didn’t listen only to end up making a mistake, he never met me with “I told you so” only “What did you learn?”
He helped me come up with the name of my first real business, A T avenue. His sweet wife, Beth, was my first clothing closet consultation. I remember coming up with price and inventory manage strategies in his car on the way to a CEO event.
I say all this because I want you to know how much this man means to me. To everyone. He has impacted thousands. He’s a speaker, an author, a giver, a believer, a dreamer, a mentor, a father, and a friend.
Last Friday, I found out he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He started the strongest form of chemo this week.
The town has rally behind him and everyone is pouring out words of support, prayer, and encouragement.
He announced to everyone that he is at peace with this. He has lived a life that he regrets nothing about. He lived his bucket list. He didn’t wait for retirement to do all that he wanted to do. He lived. And he wants us to live to. To not wait for our time to come because our time is now.
I believe all of that.
But it doesn’t take away the anger I feel. Why would this happen to him? How could God let this happen? He can’t be sick, not him. He’s too good. Too inspirational. Too kind. Too important to me – to everyone.
I’ve never lost anyone close to me before in my life. I’ve never experienced the finality of death. The thought of losing him terrifies me. It terrifies a lot of people.
Although it all seems unfair and I can be angry about it until I’m red in the face, it doesn’t change anything.
What I can do is be grateful – for the time I spent and still get to spend with him. He is a fighter. He will fight this with everything he has and he will do it with humor and say things to make the people around him laugh because that’s what he does. He cares so much about everyone around him more than he cares about himself. That’s love.
The first time we spoke after I found out this devastating news he called me and said, “I just wanted to call and see how you were doing with everything. How are you?” In a time where he could’ve (with full right) talked about himself and how he was doing, he wanted to know how I was.
This will always stick with me. We can walk through life being so self-absorbed that we internalize all of our conversations and make every bad day/circumstance be about us, or we can reach out and be a light to the world.
That’s what this man is to me. A light.
Everyone that meets him, wants to spend time with him. Because he makes you feel good about existing, he makes you see your purpose.
I am forever thankful for this man.
Thank you, Craig Lindvahl. I will stand by you through it all.