Okay, I don’t really hate Wayne’s beard, but I hate what it stood for when we were on a project together 4 years ago. Before I go into why, let me give you the background on my history with Wayne and Cindy.
I was thinking last night about when I met Wayne. I honestly could not remember ever “meeting” him. It’s like he has always been in my life in some way or form for the past 5-ish years. I don’t know if it was through ODTUG, Kscope, the Oracle ACE Program, Oracle, or …what. I just know that when we were on a project together in Minneapolis (IN THE DEAD OF WINTER) 4 years ago, I already knew him. Being on the project together, seeing him get his ACE status during that time, working together for Kscope items, and working for the same company allows you to get to know someone. During dinners, sitting at the airport, and other times together, he always talked of his wife, Cindy. She was the joy of his life and he loved talking about her. One thing he talked about was Cindy having cancer and that was growing out his beard until she was declared in remission. To me, it was a physical reminder of his internal pain. I hated that he had that beard.
I rolled off that project in March and didn’t see him again until June at Kscope. Almost immediately, I noticed that he was cleanly shaven. I gave him a sideways look and asked, “Your beard?!” And a proud joy came across his face when he yelled, “YES! It’s gone!” A big hug soon followed. I reveled in the joy I got to share with him that afternoon.
Thanks to Facebook, I got to connect with Cindy soon after this and have fun with her and Wayne virtually. I thought often about how I wished we lived closer as I really enjoyed her and Wayne. That fall at Oracle OpenWorld I got the opportunity to see Wayne again and called him my date that night with Cindy’s permission. She joyfully gave it and we got a great picture to share with her (notice his beard is back, but for no particular reason this time).
The following summer, Kscope was held in Chicago and I found out that Cindy would be joining. I was thrilled to finally meet her in person! We got a group together for dinner post-Kscope to meet and unwind after the conference. She was even lovelier in person than virtually. I kept thinking that she has an amazing energy that was pure joy and happiness. I again lamented that we did not live close to each other.
Last year I got the news that Cindy’s cancer had returned. I was heartbroken and immediately asked God why and for healing. I had gotten to know her even more via social media and was always enjoying her posts traveling for historical reenactments, finding antiques, and loving on her son, Clark, and Wayne. I was able to get together with Cindy, Wayne, Mike Riley, and his wife, Lisa, in October while visiting for an Oracle conference presentation. As usual, there was lots of laughing and wishing we all lived closer. This was the first time I have seen Cindy in person while she was going through cancer treatment and one thing clearly stood out to me – this woman can find joy in anything. When talking about things going on with treatment, she nearly always had a smile and always found something positive. This really hit home because if she can find joy in cancer treatments, I can find joy in life’s easier curveballs.
My heart is heavy knowing Cindy is in pain and time is short with her. But she will live on for many, many years. My heart is heavy knowing Wayne and Clark’s bright light is going through a dim period.
Cindy, I pray that I can learn to find joy in things the same way you do. You’ve made me smile and laugh more than Facebook can let me “like”. Your love for your husband, Clark, family, and life is radiant. You are loved. I’ve decided to dedicate my racing season to you. Your name will be marked on my body each race. My race season’s mantra is “Be the Storm”. I know with you as my lightning that I will be the storm I strive to be in my races. I can’t wait to see what we do together this year!
GoFundMe for the Van Sluys’: https://www.gofundme.com/vansluys
Justin Biard’s Ode to His Friend Wayne: https://icodealot.com/my-friend/