Tuesday, January 27, 2015


What does it mean to LIVE LIKE PAUL?

In the almost 17 years of friendship I had with Paul, I learned a lot about how to live.  I still lose my breath sometimes when I think that my friendship with him will now be expressed through prayer vs. spontaneous trips and uncontrollable laughter.  Living like Paul means a lot of things to me.

It means not being afraid to reach out to others, even if that means putting myself on the line.
It means holding back on the unkind word, even when I really want to say it.
It means starting each day with prayer, and getting to Mass when I can.
It means eating a lot of candy, and only occasionally brushing my teeth.
It means being up for adventure, any day, any time.
It means loud music and silly dances.
It means giant hugs to all those I know and love.
It means trusting things will work out, even if you're on a road trip and your tire shreds and the breaks stop working.
It means having an intimate relationship with the saints and angels
It means loving my spouse unselfishly.
It means praying with my children.
It means pushing my children to be adventurous and holding my breath while they climb things.
It means knowing when to take the serious things, seriously
It means playing with things that fly in the air like helicopters and airplanes
It means dirty finger nails from too much fun.
It means working hard, even when you don't want to.
It means fixing things yourself
It means saying, 'I love you' often. And meaning it
It means not giving up, even when the suffering is great.
It means being able to smile, even when things aren't going your way
It means not swearing (that one is hard for me)
It means living a Sacramental life- Eucharist and Reconciliation
It means quick meals of Quesadillas cooked on the stove top
It means praying before meals
It means not being afraid to get dirty
It means being intentional about choosing joy, even if my mood doesn't match it
It means not focusing to much on #firstworldproblems
It means making sure those who I love know it
It means keeping a childlike heart always, but not being childish
It means making being a saint, my biggest goal.
It means giving a thumbs up, even when the pain is great, and the effort is unbearable
To LIVE LIKE PAUL is intense.  It's not easy.  Very few of us can say we have lived like my buddy Paul, but most of us will say we want to.  As a special fundraising effort for Annie and her children, we will be selling LIVE LIKE PAUL shirts with Paul's favorite colors.  As goals are met, we will make new ones.  We will sprinkle the great US of A with 'LIVE LIKE PAUL' shirts because they will remind us to be the best people we can be.  Please click on THIS LINK to purchase yours today.  BUT, if you can't PURCHASE A SHIRT, that's okay...you can still LIVE LIKE PAUL everyday.  And you should.  Because, if you do, even when you are intensely sick- you'd still be smiling like this!


Monday, January 26, 2015

What to say...

... when your best friend's wife asks you to give his Eulogy.

Last Thursday, as I was getting on a plane to fly to my best friend's funeral- I got a phone call from his sweet wife Annie. I hadn't talked to her since Paul passed away. I answered, although we were boarding.  With tears she told me that my blogs had meant so much to Paul (I, of course, started crying) and then with tears asked me if I would be willing to give his Eulogy.  Crying, I said of course.  Our connection went bad and I hung up, crying and shaking.  The seatmate next to me offered a tissue.  That night, when so many of our college friends were having a reunion of sorts, I went to my room, prayed through the intercession of my friend, and wrote a final goodbye for my friend.  I decided to share it with you, because I know some of you were unable to make the funeral...


Hi.  For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Mary Wilkerson, formerly Mary Buckley. I met Paul when we were both 18 year old kids, who thought we were really grown up as Freshman at Franciscan University.  Like so many of you, my memory is filled with adventures, faith and unbelievable joy with my best friend.  After we graduated from college, Paul lived with my family for a few years on and off.  My brother was his best man.  My siblings consider Paul another Brother, and my parents consider him another son.  Like all of us here, we can’t believe this is real life.  Although, there is a part of me that thinks it’s fitting that Paul gets to see Jesus first.  And, without an ounce of doubt, I know, right now, my friend is with Jesus.  Heck, he’s probably already offered the Blessed Mother a swing dance.

You see, in these last few weeks, as I watched the community come together to #prayforpaul, everyone kept saying the same thing. 

“This guy is different”
“This guy is the best”
“This guy show’s people Christ”

And that might be what makes this all so hard. 

Why did God take him?  How can this possibly be the best way?  How does Paul being gone make the light of Christ more obvious?  More prevalent?  How does any of this make sense?

“And Jesus Wept”

The shortest verse in the bible.  I always thought it was one of the most profound moments in Scripture. Because what made Him weep was the sorrow of the community, even though He knew the victory that could come from death.  The broken hearts, the faces of disbelief, the accusations of His friends…

“If you had been here, our brother would not have died”
We prayed, dear Jesus, we prayed hard.  We believed a miracle was possible.  We said together, “Master, the one you love is sick”.  How can it be that he’s gone?  But then, I think of our Paul.
And his laugh.  Oh, that laugh! And I think of his love.  Man- he never had a bad thing to say about anyone, and he just may have gotten a little frustrated with me, because, SOMETIMES I MIGHT have had bad things to say about people.And I think of how he loved Jesus.  So completely- more than anyone I have ever met.  So much so that I often wondered why he’d ever choose to be friends with a big ol’ pagan like me.  When I think of how he loved Jesus, I am so happy for him.

Every night, when we were together, he’d say
“Sleep with the Angels” and I would respond, “And rise with the Saints” **
(***sometimes we’d add in And wake with Jesus on your heart***)
My brother pointed out the other night- Paul is ACTUALLY sleeping with the angels and rising with the saints.  My friend, right now, with saints and angels.  It’s almost too joyful to bear.

Mr. and Mrs. Coakley- a mystery I am unfolding as a young mother, is that my job is to get my children to heaven.  The weight of that sometimes cripples me.  It’s what I want so badly for the children entrusted to me.  And I believe fully- you did it!  You raised him to desire heaven first, and now, he gets to be there.  But, you raised him SO well, that he worked hard to make sure all of us had a chance to go there with him.  And he didn’t do it in words.  He did it in action.  In a way that’s hard to describe, but picturing his face, smile, laugh and love… THAT’s how he did it.

Annie, Christian, Damian, Caeli Grace and sweet baby Coakley, thank you.  Thank you for allowing us to watch your holy family, right till the end.  Thank you for saying “yes” when God led you down a road no one expected.  Annie, thank you for teaching us what Christian Marriage should look like.  Whether that was Paul reminding you to eat when telling a good story, or you saving money on the sly to buy him that motorcycle.  Thank you for teaching us how to love, even as you held your beloved and helped usher him into the deepest desire of his heart… the heavenly kingdom.

Annie, your children will know Paul.  Because all of us will ensure it.  Not just in the way we tell stories, support you, or promise to make your family a priority in our lives.  Those are good, but there is more.  We will live Annie.  We will #livelikepaul.  Even when we don’t want to.  We will risk adventures, we will live in the moment, we will root our lives in prayer and be kinder to others.  And we will know your children, and they will know Paul through us. 

I spoke of adventures with Paul, but what I didn’t tell you is I am not an adventurous person.  AT. ALL.  In fact, I often would be angry at the situations my friend would convince me to be a part of.  Questioning outloud why I was friends with him and using colorful words.

If you look carefully- I am terrified
One of these times, we had road tripped to Califronia and Paul had convinced me to climb a cliff to jump off a water fall, because, apparently this is what “Normal” people do for fun.  At one point the cliff ridge bent and you had to proceed by leaning your body into the abyss and walking forward.  I freaked the freak.  BIG TIME.  Sobbing, questioning once again why I was friends with Paul.  I told Paul I would not go where he wanted, could not go where he wanted.  But, there was no way to go back- and so Paul told me, as he often did, to calm down.  That he would walk me through it.  Told me to hold his hand- put my right foot here, my left foot in this spot.  I held on to his hand, and I made it.  My friend got me though and I jumped off that waterfall as one of the coolest memories of my 20s.

Paulie- we are gonna need your help to get through this one.  It’s scary and we don’t want to do it.  But there is no going back- So you beg that heavenly Father, on our behalf, your friends, family, parents, and most of all wife and children- to make this a little less scary.  And be near to us.

I’ll miss your guts buddy.

My sister KATIE, made my brother and I a treasured gift to remember Paul by, this homemade print of, 'Sleep with the Angels, Rise with the Saints and Wake with Jesus on Your Heart'.  If you would like one in your own home, to always remember our Paul- please stop by her Etsy shop, made JUST for the purpose of selling these prints.  They are 10x13 and $70-$80 of the proceeds will go straight to Annie and the kids.  

We are so excited to give you this site where you can buy your 'LIVE LIKE PAUL' tshirt. Proceeds from the shirts will go to Ann and children...so basically, we want to sell a TON! I don't know about you, but I think a 'livelikepaul' shirt would be a great gift smile emoticon There are adult and youth sizes. Please share on your wall, blogs, instagram and other social media outlets. We have started with a humble goal, but our intention is to try to sell 1,000 of these during the campaign which will last until Paul's birthday (February 9th) If we are successful, we will be sending Ann an additional check for 17,000 dollars! Let's do this Team Paul and Ann!!!!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

I've always had a thing about the number...

Do you guys have a favorite number?

I do.

I really do.

Have you ever wondered how favorite numbers come to be?  

My favorite number is quite easy to explain.
My last name for most of my life was Buckley.  So, when teachers would number their students, starting at the beginning of the alphabet, I always had basically the same number.
So I have come to love it.

It’s my favorite.

I use it in passwords.

I like to arrange things by this number.

The Bible obviously thought it was the coolest number too, because the gospels accounts equal my favorite number.

Wanna know what it is?






Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Did God answer our prayers...

...and provide a miracle for our friend and family member Paul?

Well I believe He did.  What I have witnessed the past few weeks has been miraculous.  It's been beautiful and terrifying.  It's been sorrowful and joyful.  It has brought a community of people together.

I have been so all over the place since Christmas week- when I got the text from Ann that said, 'we think Paul might have cancer'.  I truly feel like I've been living in slow motion, under a thick haze these last few weeks as Paul's condition went from bad, to worse, to worse still, to desperate, to the end.

Two weeks ago, Ann sent me a text message that simply said, "brain tumors. Love you".  I got on a plane, that night, with my brother.  We went to go see our friend.  We laughed with him and Annie.  We gave them a bag of dollar store gifts to make them smile...an orange ball, a bag of peanut M&:Ms, a wand to make it all better.  That was fun.  But, it was the last thing. The last thing we did? The last thing I did with my friend?  We prayed.  Brian had his hand on Paul's head, I had my hand on his shoulder (and can't let go of the fact that I think I held it too hard), Ann on his other side holding his hand.  We prayed. We thanked God for friendship. We prayed it be the will of God to cure Paul. We told God we trusted Him.  Nurses came in, Paul was preparing for a surgery, they said we could finish.  So we prayed.

Then we hugged.
And I cried on the elevator back to the car.
But the last thing I did with my friend was pray.
Paul and Ann assured us, they were going to glorify God through this circumstance.  That night, at the hotel, engaging in a couple too many budlights, I cried to my brother and said, 'How?  How can it be God's will to take my friend? How can Paul give Him the greatest Glory in death?'  And Brian reminded me, that if and when God calls Paul, we have no idea how Paul would be used.  We can't understand the great mystery of life entirely.  But we have a God who loves, who works all things to his Glory.   I believe that.

Last week- several times, it appeared Paul would die within the hour.  Some of these times were at night.  I haven't slept, like so many of you.  Anxious with worry.  And so I prayed. I begged to understand our God.  And I felt called to read the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.  Since then I have read it over and over and over again.

When Mary and Martha sent word, "Master the one you love is sick!" (John 11:3)

How we've been doing that.  
"Master, Lord, Blessed Margaret, sweet Lady... the one you love is sick!"
We started a facebook page for prayers and support.  You guys, there are well over 7000 people on it.  All of us begging, "Lord, Master, the one you love is sick".

Now Jesus Loved Mary, and her sister Martha and Lazarus (John 11:5).

What comfort I have taken in God's reminder of Love.  Jesus loves us.  My friendship with Paul, it was built on faith. I can't tell you how many times I have prayed with him.  We knew Jesus.  We knew Jesus as friends.  We knew Jesus in our adventures.  We knew and know Jesus.  Ann, sweet Ann, and their children.  They know Jesus.  And Jesus knows them.  He knows them by name.  And he loves them.  And in this story, the story of sisters losing a brother- we are reminded first, that Jesus loved them.

"Martha said, "Jesus, if you had been here, my brother would not have died" (John 11:21)

The sorrow.  The sorrow of saying, 'Where are you?'  Saturday, my friends, I was angry.  "stop praying for a miracle" I wanted to shout.  "Pray my friend dies in peace, he is SUFFEREING- Jesus, stop making him SUFFER".

"The teacher is asking for you" (John 11:28)

I am still learning about The Teacher through Paul.  Saturday I raged, Sunday I understood.  Paul was suffering.  Paul was most likely not going to get his miracle in the way I wanted it for him.  But, Paul would not give up.  He would not give up because HE WANTED TO SUFFER WITH JESUS FOR US!  He wanted to pray.  He wanted to fight.  He wanted to use every ounce he had for grace.  To bring people closer to Christ.

"When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became deeply troubled" (John 11:33)

Death was not in the original design.  Death is the most horrifying, terrible end.  Death seems so final.  Death hurts.  Death brings disbelief.  How many times have I said, "I can't even comprehend what is happening to Paul. I cannot comprehend I might not see my friend on earth again".  It's too hard for me to understand.  All of us, in such disbelief.  You guys, ONE MONTH AGO MY FRIEND WAS ALIVE AND AS FAR AS I KNEW, WELL. And now he is dead?  How. how is that possible?  How is it possible that two weeks ago, my brother and I gave Paul a gift of dollar store smiles (including rotting teeth and a smiley face stickers), we laughed, we told him he would fight.  And now he is dead?  Dead?  Dead I will never see my friend again here?  Dead, my children will not know him but through stories?  Dead, his wife, my sweet friend, can't hold her husband?  Dead, his babies.  My gosh, you guys HIS BABIES. He has an unborn child.  His siblings.  His mother.  dead?  not possible, my grief screams.  Not so!  Please. Not so.

And Jesus wept (John 11:35).

We weep.  We weep for our friend.  I saw the world with this friend.  Can it be true our adventures are over here on earth?  Can it be possible I won't hear the Pauly laugh anymore?  It hurts so much. So deep. My heart, and so many of my friends, not to mention Paul's family and his sweet Annie/Children...our hearts are shattered.  Grief so profound.  But friends, I have a God that sees that grief and he WEEPS.  He knows the outcome.  He knows the glory.  And yet, he looks at the suffering of those meant to live with loss and he WEEPS.

So they took away the stone.  And Jesus raised his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe you have sent me...and when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, "LAZARUS, COME OUT" The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth.  So Jesus said, "Untie him and let him go" (John 11:41-44)

Can you imagine?  Can you imagine after seeing the crowds, the anger, the questioning, the sorrow, Jesus Weeping...and then He says, 'Untie him and let him go".
You see.  My God defeated death.  It is no more.  This morning, I couldn't breathe with grief.  I drove in the car and all I could think about was my friend's last breath.  But when I thought of it, I thought of his next eternal breath.  Paul, who lived his ENTIRE LIFE for Jesus.  Not just in word, like so many of us...but so completely.  So fully.  Until the very end.  It is so very fitting that he gets to see Jesus first.  Paul is free.  I believe with all my heart that Paul is in heaven- with all my heart. I believe he entered the kingdom today, something he was waiting for.  And he knew, after all of his suffering, in a way we can only glimpse right now...that JESUS DEFEATED DEATH and GIVES NEW LIFE.

My friend's battle is over.  The battle that kept him vehemently shaking his head that he wanted to keep going with treatment, though his fragile body could barely stand it.  The battle that doctors say kept him so worn out it was like he was running on a treadmill for days.  The battle he fought so hard for this last month, with every inch of his will, in order to suffer well and bring others to Christ.  It's funny- there is a slight irony that, this week, the cover story of People magazine is the young woman who chose to die rather than suffer or have her loved ones watch her suffer. That image of our culture, up against the image of my friend, the true warrior, battling for every breath so that he might use it for good.  I am so glad he fought.  But I am so glad he gets a reprieve.

With the battle over, the miracle has already been beginning.  My inbox, phone, facebook, instagram...filled with people saying...

"I did not know him, but his story has changed me"
"I cannot stop praying for this person I do not know"
"I am closer to Jesus because of his example"


THAT'S the miracle. It was granted.  Paul and Annie told us all repeatedly...they were willing to go where God wanted them to go, to bring him glory.

And glory has been brought.
And we are all better for it.

I'll miss you dear friend.  More than words can say.  More than I can possibly imagine on this day.  And yet, when I got the message you had 'gone home'...I looked up at the sky- I stared and I knew where you were.  And I knew you could see me.

I expect you'll be taking care of us all in a special way now my friend.  And I can't wait to watch that story unfold.

Did God answer our prayers?!?!


Please consider helping out Ann as she moves forward without her beloved.

Oh...and after you donate, listen to this song.  It is about my friend Paul. Every word.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Seven Quick Takes

I'm on an airplane- writing my quick takes on my phone. I'm probably not gonna be able to link them until tonight and I can't use the fancy graphic. But I wanted to write them. For you.

If you are on "thefacebook" or "theinstagram" you I went to Nashville to see this guy and his beautiful wife
It was very spontaneous. I booked my flight at 5:00 pm, for a flight at 7:30 pm. It was an awesome trip. I haven't done a crazy road trip in years, so it seems fitting that when I finally took one it would be to see my spontaneous road trip buddy! 

Paul still needs your prayers and they are still waiting on a real big miracle! Let's make it happen, if it's suppose to happen  ok?

So you know how you can be friends with someone for almost 17 years but still find out about them? When Paul was a kid- he won the Junior Olympics, for a triathlon (or a couple). I knew that. What I didn't know is that in one of the newspaper articles the headline was "Paul Coakley Shatters Lance Armstrong's Record" or something like that. The word shattered was used! Turns out, Paul has the same exact cancer (if not a bit more severe) as Mr. Armstrong had- in almost all the same places. I found that to be very hopeful. Because Armstrong beat cancer- and Paul shattered his record. Does my train of thought make sense? Anyway can someone who read this know someone, who knows someone, who can have good ol' Lance give Paul a call? I think that'd be cool. And we are only all separated by six degrees, so do some thinking and make it happen. Please and thank you.

My parents/sister watched my boys very last minute for me. I'm grateful like "whoa" because my boys are not an easy  crew to last minute watch. They kind of create upheaval. I owe them.

I don't mean to be all "come on guys" but I think it's super weird when people act surprised that it's cold in January.

#joy (Brian doesn't get it) #insidejoke #facebookjokesonottooinside

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The things that went down....

...over Christmas break.

Remember how I told you Aaron had two weeks off for Christmas Break?  Remember how I told you I was intentionally not going to make plans?  That was an INCREDIBLY hard thing to do, and it was hard to decline visits with people who were only in town for a short period of time.  At the same time, I really felt our family needed some slowing down and collecting ourselves before the new year.  Wanna know how we spent it?  We kicked it off with a Christmas party- friends style...it was deeeelightful.

I wanna warn you, there are far too many pictures in this post. Probably more than I have ever put in a post before... because editing them down was tough for me!

Getting crafty in our pictures

They always hook our boys up.  This year was no exception

This makes me happy. Friendships are important

That led to our next great adventure... Frankenmuth, MI!  Frankenmuth, for those of you who don't know, is a Christmas town in overdrive.  It might not have been the smartest idea in the world to take a 3, 2, and 1 year old to such a busy town a few days before Christmas, but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless (except for our first experience of having to leave a restaurant before we ate due to meltdowns and dirty diapers...the ONE time I forget the diaper bag!).
Look at that happy bunch

It's how we roll

The boy was obsessed with his hot coco. It was really cute.

5 years ago this man asked me to marry him in this city.  regrets?!?!

After that delightful fun, Aaron surprised us with a groupon to a bounce house place.  It took lil' A almost an hour to warm up to the idea, but all the boys loved it!
I LOVE this picture so much

Slow down on the whole growing up thing little man

he finally tried a slide.

Christmas Eve was a bit Crazy 'round these parts.  We made some cookies, we made a 'Peppa Pig' birthday cake for Jesus (because my kids watch too much TV and request weird things), we went to my parents for Wigilia, annnnnnd then we went to Mass. Mass was a fiasco, as 'fake midnight Masses at 9:00 pm' tend to be- then we got home and assembled the toys for the boys visit from Santa (and Jesus and presents from mom and dad).

cooking.  Don't get excited- its the prepackaged stuff

Joey got in on the action

proud of their work

I don't care who you are...this is a darn cute pig

I was so excited to give them this present from Rakstar Designs

Joey's absolute favorite person in the world is his Har Har

Santa's treat

We are those parents, who set up those things on Christmas Eve

Then, it was our Christmas morning. I love LOVE LOVE our Christmas day.  We sang to Jesus, the boys did presents, Aaron's parents came over for breakfast and then we just enjoy the day.  It's so cool to not have to 'run' a million places.  To just be together, celebrating our Lord's birth in peaceful tranquility. Well, I mean, we do have three kids... so, more like- not total insanity. 

They were so excited

John Paul opening books from Jesus

Playing together

My lucky boys surrounded by love

Their excitement and curiosity was awesome

The sleeping bags were a MAJOR win by Grammy and Papa.  They stayed in them all day.

New racetrack from the uncle
In crazy spontaneity, my sisters and I decided we needed some time together.  So, sisters weekend in a lovely little place called Dublin, Ohio was thrown together.  Thank God for Embassy Suites and short-ish drives to be able to see each other.
Bathroom selfie at the mall we met at

Day drankin'?  Why not.

Well all except the one cookin' a kid

Embassy Suites cause we so fancy

This was an AWESOME irish pub in Dublin, Ohio.

We went to a fancy place with nice waitresses for breakfast one morning. Our boys charmed the heck outta the whole place- but they were in their jammies.  Is it weird to take your kids to a restaurant in jammies?  probs.
I mean, with all the cute...come on?

Chocolate Chip Pancakes is where it's at

Our Bacon Lover

JP getting in on the action

After a terribly dramatic fight with my husband that began with whether or not he'd make beef stew without potatoes... and built into me crying at my parent's table about my mean old husband (seriously, that happened) we ended up having a super fun night at our friend's New Year's Eve Party.  Someone might have indulged a bit too much (which took a full 24 hours to recover from)- but the pictures show we had a blast!

The girls and Jay's fancy stairs

Right before the ball dropped.  And right before I consumed the champagne that sent me over the edge

is EVERYBODY happy?!?!?!

I feel so blessed to be in this community of people...

Annnnnd that my friends is a Christmas break wrap.