Somehow, in adversity, we shine

Published 1:10 am Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Life has taught me this

Everyday is new

And if anything is true

All that matters when we’re through is how we love. Beth Nielsen Chapman.


There was a crack in my son, Tim’s, voice when I called him. It was a small sound that told me how much he was hurting.

I tried to find words of comfort, but there is not much to say when someone loses a friend he loves. Words don’t do what a hug can and I was too many miles away to give my child a hug.

Only days ago, my son texted asking for prayers for his friend who was holding on to life as he tried to find a way to stop the cancer that was slowing taking his body. I joined in praying and hoping for a miracle.

Unfortunately, that was not the way the story was going to go. I got another text Sunday morning telling me the struggle was over.

Yes, that is a heartbreaking, but it is far from the end of this story. In fact, because of the way this man chose to live, many other stories may have happier endings.

Tim’s friend was Kevin Brown, who along with his wife, Stacy, started the successful Chicken Salad Chick franchise, which from grew humble beginnings in Auburn into a chain of restaurants.

Of course, Kevin and Tim were friends long before there were restaurants. They met as they were both just starting their “adult” lives. Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of Kevin stories. These two had fun together.

When Kevin got a diagnosis of Stage 4 colon cancer in 2013, Tim called to tell me. There was a crack in his voice that day too.

Funny, how some people begin to shine brightest when they are plunged into something that could swallow them up in darkness. That is what Kevin Brown did.

I read this quote from him talking about his diagnosis.

“My mindset went from ‘poor pitiful me’ to ‘let’s fight this thing,’ and ‘I don’t want to be the only one to beat this.”

Instead of sinking into despair, he set up the foundation he and his wife talked about ever since their business took flight. They founded the Chicken Salad Chick Foundation in June 2014. Its mission:

“To provide funding to the American Cancer Society to help eliminate cancer as a major health problem, to support local cancer centers, and to provide food for hungry people through support of local food banks and their various programs.”

Here is another Kevin Brown quote that allows us to see this man’s heart.

“I knew the day we walked into the East Alabama Cancer Center. I heard a voice speak to me and say, ‘This is your opportunity, Kevin, to do a lot of good and help a lot of people.’”

And that is exactly what is happening, what will continue to happen, thanks to Kevin Brown. As his wife wrote when she told the world about his passing, “Through Kevin’s love, lives have been touched, souls have been nourished and hearts have been restored.”

I don’t pretend to understand why life happens the way it does, but my heart tells me there is a rhyme and reason to it. Maybe we all come here with a purpose and when we fill it, we return home.

For some that takes a lot of years. For others, it doesn’t take as long.

On November 21, surrounded by people he loved and people who loved him, Kevin Brown finished what he came to do and in his passing away taught us something about how to live.

He is a shining example of the final words of Beth Nielson Chapman’s song, “How We Love.”

“All that matters when we’re gone

All that mattered all along

All we have that carries on… is how we love”

Thank you Kevin for how you lived, for being a good friend to my son and for how you loved.


Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher.