.

"Live today." And tomorrow, "live today." And the next day, "live today."

We all had our reasons for last night. Honoring loved ones. Celebrating life. Rekindling hope. And the overwhelming desire to TRULY LIVE.

"It would be cool to have a skylantern festival. A bunch of people launching them at the same time."  

I've started and stopped this blog three times. That quote was as far as I got. I am lost for words because my mind is still whirling with how last night felt.

February 14th, 2011, I read a post from a former classmate and friend being given one year to live. His post was "What do you do when the doctors give you one year to live?"

Surely this can't be someone I know. It must be a country song. Or a fictional book. But it was. It was a post from Fred. There are some pretty awful things to hear. I would put this at the top of the list.

His response was in his actions. You live. You love. You stay faithful.  

Over the course of the year, I looked forward to his posts. Before his brain surgery, he "fashioned" a halo that was part of his procedure. He made light of his circumstance in a noble and optimistic way. He thanked God many times. He traveled. He visited with friends. He lived.  

February 14th, 2012 rolled around. His optimism surely helped him to exceed his "date." Still alive. Still enjoying life, despite treatments and hurdles.  

His decline began and through his wife's posts, he still clung to life. He was still hanging on. He was still with us.

Mutual friends and myself had decided to launch a skylantern for Fred. In hope of another miracle. To bring him some of the positive energy that he was so well-known for.  

On October 6th, an hour before the launch, I learned that Fred had become an angel. He was a father. A husband. A faithful believer. He had left this world.  

My tears spilled. I was filled with mixed emotions. I was sad. I had prayed so hard for a miracle for Fred. I prayed for his family.  

Jillian said it best, "Fred has the best seat in the house. Let's do tonight for Fred."

As the lanterns began to launch I began a short video (attached). I cut it short to cry. I cried for Fred. I cried because it was so profound and beautiful. I cried because so many people I love were witnessing this amazing event. I was overwhelmed with emotion.

The crescendo of the days and moments leading up to this moment.  

My friend Laura Wilson grabbed me and hugged me. I think the darkness made it easier for the raw emotion to reveal itself.

I let it go.  

I took a deep breath and felt so alive. Filled with wonder.

The lanterns just kept going. Being lit and gently floating to the Heavens. Like prayers and wishes floating off into the distance to be heard.  

Fred, I hope you saw it buddy. Your positivity and desire to live will continue to inspire me.  

We all had our reasons for last night. Honoring loved ones. Celebrating life. Rekindling hope. And the overwhelming desire to TRULY LIVE. Thanks Fred.

Here is a video of the launch from last night. It was wonderful.

Thank you so much to everyone who came to this with us. VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5a8IHe3maU&feature=youtu.be

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jillian Duchnowski October 08, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Stars of Hope Encore: We have about 100 lanterns left that we are offering for home use. Purchase them online and pick them up next Saturday at River City Roasters. (noon to 1 p.m. Oct. 13) http://www.starsofhopefestival.com/#!buy
Megghun Redmon October 08, 2012 at 02:42 PM
WONDERFUL NIGHT!!! You guys did an amazing job organizing it!

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