For several weeks now, I’ve been meaning to write an email to our friend Rick about a story I should have shared with him a long time ago. Not sure why I’ve been putting it off, but tonight it’s on my heart to tell this story here, for everyone to read. Rick, I hope you don’t mind.
The year Matt retired from football, his friend Adam asked him to tag along to film a hunt for his show, Buck Commander. After explaining to me that the hunt was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and how he had access to some exclusive, otherwise unattainable tag, on land that has never been touched by human feet, and how his hunter’s soul would be at peace for weeks, and how there’s no way he could get into any trouble with this straight and narrow group of choir boys….
we he agreed to go. (I quickly learned that every hunt Matt would ever go on would be a once in a lifetime opportunity, and that choir boys apparently take turns smashing each other’s rental cars to show their affections for one another.)
So, off he goes.
I don’t remember where that particular hunt took place, what they were chasing, or even if he had snagged himself a trophy. What sticks out in my memory of that trip was the fact that, there he was, filming for a successful hunting show with all these huge personalities and famous names, and the only name he ever mentioned on his return home was of his cameraman and new friend, Rick Carone, a.k.a. Radar Rick. He just went on and on about this incredible guy and I already couldn’t wait to meet him.
My husband has met some incredible people from all walks of life; famous athletes, musicians, actors, politicians, soldiers, artists, craftsmen… and everyone in between. However, this is probably going to sound bad, but Matt’s not easily impressed. Sure, he finds lots of people to be interesting and talented in their own right, and he can have fun with just about anyone. But, in general I could probably count on both hands the men in Matt’s life that he would say he truly admires and who inspire him.
Rick, is one of these men.
Don’t get me wrong and think that I feel Rick should be honored in any way by making my husband’s short list of people who have his full respect and admiration; that’s not it at all. As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure Matt realizes that I notice these things, but in case you forgot, I’m a card carrying people watcher. It’s just that I’ve learned over the years that if you have something you want someone to know, you should tell them.
Anyway, Matt realized that Rick was special the very first time they sat in a tree stand together, and I slowly learned over the next several years exactly why.
I’ll get right to the point; Rick Carone was put on this earth to show everyone who is lucky enough to know him, what faith looks like. True, hard learned faith. Not the cushy kind, when you know things will probably be just fine. I’m talking about the “Hey Rick, this is going to suck. It’s gonna hurt… physically, emotionally, and spiritually, you’re going to be challenged in ways most people will never understand. Actually, you may not understand, but everyone is watching so I need you to do me a solid and keep your eyes on Me. Sincerely, God”, kind of faith.
I’m guessing you know someone (maybe it’s you) that God has, or is using in this way. He works through people every single day and sometimes it hurts like hell to watch. But I will say this, the lucky ones realize Who is in control and allow Him to do these works for His glory. I’ve seen it over and over again in my own life and in the lives of countless people around me.
But Rick, you my friend are doing His works in ways I’m not sure you even truly understand. Of course you’ve raised awareness and thousands of dollars for cancer research, but that’s just the beginning. For Matt and I, you are a daily reminder of how blessed we are, to stop sweating the small stuff, and to be grateful to the God who looks after us… even when we can’t see Him.
Because that’s faith, right? We choose to believe what we know in our hearts to be true, even when we don’t have tangible proof. If you (Rick) can praise God and send comforting words to all of us while enduring so much, what more proof would anyone need?
I’d like to thank you, Rick, for allowing us to witness what God’s love looks like. With all the darkness in the world, you are a light to every single person who is lucky enough to know you. When I think of you I am embarrassed for the things I complain about and immediately shift my thinking. I hate that your suffering has to remind me of what’s important in my life, but I want you to know what an incredible impact you have on our lives from thousands of miles away.
I’m so grateful that my husband met you on that “once in a lifetime hunt”. Spending time with you has been the highlight of those trips for him. That’s what I wanted to tell you… privately, for everyone who has access to the internet to read.
Matt and I love you! See you soon!
If anyone is wondering why I’d put all this “out there”, I’d say this; It’s my flipping blog and I can do whatever the heck I want. Well, that, and it’s my way to encourage all of you to drop a note to someone you’ve been thinking about. Let them know what they mean to you. Why not, right? If someone crosses your mind, just take a second to say, “Hey. Hi. You’re the best.”. It just might change their whole day.
Oh yeah, by the way, I don’t mean to be cryptic about what’s going on with Rick; he was diagnosed with stage IV Pancreatic cancer back in 2013. I didn’t mention it yet because we don’t think of him as the “dude with cancer”. To us he’s the “amazingly courageous dude”. If you’d like to learn more about the incredible work his foundation is doing, please visit Team Carone Foundation.