Flatrock, North Carolina

 

When is the last time you asked your partner, “Would you like to go to bed with me tonight?” You probably can’t remember, right? When and why do we produce this sort of assumption of the person we love the most? Obviously, there should be a level of romantic commitment, but does that mean we should always assume? For Maureen and Zelle, the answer is clearly no. Any assumption is bad. It makes it more difficult to be truthful and hear the other with intrigue.

It began to rain as we drove down their driveway in western North Carolina. Originally an east coaster myself, I felt the nostalgia of all the rainy days I remembered as a boy. Zelle stepped out of their beautiful stone home to greet us. “Come on in guys,” he said, “Maureen is inside”. Maureen takes it easy most days because she has a rare disease that limits her breathing. You would never be able to tell, but she only has 7% lung capacity due to a rare disease called LAM. 17 years ago, doctors told her that she wouldn’t live past a year. That’s a longer time alive than anyone else with the disease. As we talked it seemed like she had more energy than I did. Not only that, but we all quickly felt like we had been friends for a while.

It was impossible to comprehend how much physical suffering she was actually enduring. But even more incredible, was how she essentially devised ways of thinking to achieve a life of joy that most people would be envious of. Years ago, Maureen and Zelle created what they now call the Blueprint of WE, a document that illustrates the unique relationship between two people. Using it, they told us, has helped them see the value of their relationship and each individual person. They decided to share it with a few colleagues who in turn shared it with their friends. Today, businesses use it for employee connections and lawyers are beginning to use it to make documents. It’s obvious what they created works because the love they had for each other was deeper than any couple I have ever met.

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