Facing life’s storms, mayor gets lesson on leading with heart
A funeral, a cancer scare and a major storm all hit one family during a week in October, leaving lessons on vulnerability and resilience.
My husband, Doug, had surgery to remove a brain tumor. My stepfather died. And during the funeral and burial, Duluth was being walloped by yet another 100-year storm, with $20 million in damage.
It was a painful, scary, exhausting and unsettling week, that second week in October.
And yet, for what I learned, I wouldn’t give it up for anything.
The day started with a visit with Doug, two days out of surgery, at the hospital. The boys didn’t need his help to tie their ties for the funeral, but we all wanted him to do it for them that morning anyway. It was a physical connection and a quiet gesture to carry us all through the day.
With Doug in Neuro-ICU recovering, the boys and I went to the funeral. Just as I was about to start a reading from Philippians — “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” — the texts and updates about the storm started pouring in.
I turned my phone over, screen face down in the pew. The right people were tracking the storm. My family, my sons, and I needed me to be right where we were. I gave a silent, honest prayer: “I am helpless to stop what is already happening. We can fix broken things; may our people be OK.”
It was a beautiful service, and we sent forward the spirit of my beloved, justice-seeking stepdad of 30 years. We ate with friends and family. We swapped funny stories. We sang the great amen, graveside.
Afterward, our sons Gabe and Eli and I walked back to Neuro-ICU to see Doug. We walked in, and there he lay, now freed from layers of bandages and tubes, with an utterly perfect rainbow of 50 staples across his skull.
The storm was over.