I don’t like country music. I realize, since we live in Georgia, I just lost half the readers. But…well…I just don’t.
Saturday was a great day.
A day full of friends, family, and one of Travis’ favorite things.
They were on the road, headed for Athens, by 6:00 AM. On the trip up they talked and laughed in amazement over the past 24 hours. Did Travis seriously talk to Lee Corso on the phone? Did Carrie have a separate conversation with Chris Fowler? One in which he apologized for taking so long to get in touch with her??? (After all, the #TravOnGameDay campaign had started a whole 48 hours earlier ;-).) Did Travis do a television interview for WSB? It was all so crazy.
As they pulled into Athens, Travis’ friends all managed to arrive at the exact same time…along with a four foot cut out of his head stating “I’m dying to be on GameDay.” In case you’re sitting there thinking, “Wow, his friends are seriously insensitive,” just know…Travis decided on the quote to put on what would become known as “The Head.” That’s just Trav.
And so the day began.
Travis played cornhole with his friends. Pictures were taken. Laughs were exchanged. It was like the hundreds of other tailgating experiences in Travis’ life.
And yet it wasn’t.
Something was different.
Travis was different.
He enjoyed every moment. You could see it in his eyes. Those hazel eyes that would well up with tears over, and over, and over again throughout the day. It was like every time you looked at Travis all you saw was love. And gratitude.
He was so grateful to be there. Enjoying the moment. Enjoying his friends. Enjoying one of his greatest pleasures in life.
And so it was time to head to College GameDay.
Upon arrival, Travis and his friends were treated like royalty. Even compared to the other individuals holding backstage passes, there was something different about Travis and his group. Travis was allowed in areas other backstage pass holders were not. Travis was given tours of areas others were not.
Travis was brought up on the “demo field” as it is know on College GameDay. Others were not.
He was introduced to the crowd and ESPN host, Chris Fowler, shared a little about this UGA alum’s journey. His fight. The crowd cheered him. Everyone was smiling. And Travis’ eyes, once again, started welling up with tears.
On the way out Travis got to speak to David Pollack, had a picture made with him, and a football signed. (And, by the way, the face David Pollack made when asked if he got all the tweets…priceless.)
And, of course, he got to meet Lee Corso, Chris Fowler, and the rest of the guys and even got a few pictures made at the desk.
The morning was…well…perfect. All his friends could have hoped it would be for Travis.
And the game was still ahead of him. Arguably, one of UGA’s best games.
So what does all this have to do with country music?
As College GameDay ended, the group headed back to tailgate. Everyone was still abuzz from the experience. Everyone was so excited. It was like, for a moment, they forgot why ESPN let Travis be included in the first place.
The group sat down and just replayed the morning in their minds. A couple of the guys were playing cornhole, but mainly, everyone was just relaxing and enjoying the moment.
And then Tim McGraw came on…Live Like You Were Dying.
The group sat there quietly listening to the song. It seemed so ironic. The timing of it. That song. It’s almost ten years old. For it to come on at that moment. And so…they let the words sink in.
“…was finally the husband, that most the time I wasn’t”
“…became the friend the friend would like to have…”
“…finally read the Good Book…”
“…took a good long hard look at what I’d do if I could do it all again…”
A tear rolled down one person’s cheek. And others began crying too. Quietly. To themselves.
And, at that moment, something hit me.
Travis is one of the luckiest people I know.
How can a guy with Cholangiocarcinoma be considered lucky?
For those of you who know Travis well you know that he is known for being “lucky”. His friends often say that he has a lucky horseshoe up his proverbial you-know-what. That he has the midas touch – everything he is a part of is successful.
That’s just Travis.
But, lately, it has seemed like Travis’ luck has run out.
Diagnosed with one of the rarest cancers. One of the hardest cancers to cure. The chemo stopped working after four, short months.
And yet. At the risk of sounding insensitive. I still think. Travis is one of the luckiest guys I know.
Travis didn’t get hit by a bus 5 months ago. He found out he had an incurable disease and his time was limited.
And now…he is living like he is dying.
And so. As Tim says…he “took a good long hard look at what he should do if he could do it all again”. And he did that.
Had he been hit by a bus…there would have never been “a good hard look”. There would have never been the changes that all of us have seen over the past five months.
Travis has loved deeper. Travis has spoken sweeter. And he is definitely the friend a friend would like to have. He spends every morning reading the Good Book and listening to sermons. Carrie feels like they are falling in love all over again. And his kids adore him more than words can express.
While he hasn’t gone 2.7 seconds on a bull name Fu Manchu…he was on ESPN’s College GameDay. He just got back from a family trip to the beach. And, as I write this, he has taken his family to the Falcons v. Patriots game for his oldest son’s birthday.
He sometimes pulls the kids into bed with him at night…just to enjoy the extra snuggles.
And so…as Tim says…he “lives like he is dying”. Because he doesn’t know how much longer he will be able to.
Despite having terminal cancer. And despite the chemo no longer working. Travis is still one of the luckiest guys I know. Regardless of the outcome. Because he got a second chance at life and he has taken it. He is living life.
On Saturday Travis, with tears in his eyes, said, “I just can’t die. I love it here so much. I love my family so much. I love all of you so much. I’m just not ready.”
And so…a few questions for you. Because not all of us are as lucky as Trav. People do get hit by buses. Have heart attacks. Aneurisms. Strokes.
Do you love the deepest you possibly can? Could you speak a little kinder? Are you the friend a friend would like to have? When was the last time you read The Good Book?
Do you…live like you are dying?