My beautiful sister who has spent the past 30 years alongside her husband has lost him, and the world has lost a man of amazing humor, goodness, and grace. Listening to the many, many, people Mike has supported over the years as they “walked with Bill” brought tears to the eyes of all of us in attendance at his Celebration of Life.
Mike, Michael Killian Gibbons, very proud of being a 100% Irish man, and a down-home southern boy, had one liners that would either have you in tears laughing, or in awe at the simple and profound wisdom he used to help you keep things in perspective. Mike would say things on the idea of: ”You why I know us talking is the right thing and in the right time? Because we’re talking.” And “Every day after sobriety is a gift to celebrate.” He lived both… Mike’s non-judgmental, kind, open, and always welcoming smile was personified on his Urn with his consistent closing words, always, “Keep Smiling.” You know he meant it because he didn’t just listen, he heard you. He also knew life was so much more than this or that situation.
Sitting there in the funeral home, I realized yet again what a gift Mike was in my life. It is so easy to get caught in the rush or pressure of a new project, a new client, or a new board position. It is so easy to get rattled by a long list of “to dos” for the day, yet Mike in the last few years of his life, daily shared photos of the beach taken on his early morning walks. The sun, the sea grass, the dunes of Delaware, all brought him such peace and a reason to celebrate the gift of life. How simple and how profound. Other than my sister, he didn’t need much more.
What an inspiration for any of us who were blessed to have him in their life. The tendency to get heady, argumentative, with a point to prove or a skill to prove, all seems so vain when we are in the presence of one who is so wise, profound, at peace, and humorous, yet certainly with very strong opinions about our need to be “our brother’s keeper.”
I pray all of us, regardless of our dreams, our ambitions, or our trials, remember that life is a gift whose value is demonstrated simply in being. Our value to each other is the willingness to truly see who is beside us; who we are working with, and who our client truly is. Stopping to help each other, without judgment, recognizing that our client is there because they are meant to be. Whether to close a deal or simply to inspire each other. The push to “succeed” or “win” is a loss if we lose sight of ourselves or those around us – their strengths and their humanness.
Mike’s ability to let those who sought healing and sobriety do so at their own pace, allowed me to realize that my clients sometimes take 2-3 years to say: “I am ready.” Maybe neither one of us fails when that happens, maybe it just happens when they and we are ready for the connection. What a gift of faith and trust in the process without fear, frustration, or self-doubt!
Maybe that next “big break” will happen when the timing is right. Keep working for it, going after it, but always with the realization that only when the timing is right, will things happen because to paraphrase Mike; “The reason I know it’s right, is because it’s happening now.”