Who Are Your Heroes?

This is an emotional week for me. Most of you know I have a passion for running. You are also likely aware of my love for reading and learning. You may not know that I also have an intense love for superheroes, especially the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). There is something about the genre that inspires me and energizes me.

If you follow the MCU, you’re probably aware that this week is the premiere of Wakanda Forever, the sequel to Black Panther, which was an absolute masterpiece. As we look to the next chapter of Wakanda, we do so without Chadwick Boseman, whom we lost to cancer in 2020.

One of my core values is Integrity. When I revisited my values diagram last year, I chose a new set of heroes that embody the principles of Integrity for me. Chadwick Boseman is one of those heroes.

On-screen, he was a king. Boseman brought a commanding presence to the role. Black Panther climbed close to the top of the list of my all-time favorite superheroes, in no small part due to his performance. I am incredibly grateful for his role in the MCU and the impact he has had.

Off-screen, Boseman was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016. Virtually no one knew – he never spoke publicly about his condition. As he battled cancer, he continued to live his best life, completing production for numerous other films. He endured criticism from some who commented on his frail appearance and suggested he had a drug problem, maintaining his silence about his internal struggles.

Chadwick Boseman was a real-life superhero. His story reminds me to live my best life every day. His decision to keep his battle with cancer private was a personal choice. His conviction to stay with that decision in the face of public criticism is heroic. The lesson I draw from this is to be true to myself and live my life with integrity, even if the world around me challenges me.

So yes, as I approach the premiere of Wakanda Forever in a world without Chadwick Boseman, my heart is heavy. I grieve that we lost such a talented actor at 43 years of age, and I am grateful for all the joy he brought us in his time on earth. I’m eager to see how we move forward in a beloved corner of the MCU without his leadership. The release of Rihanna’s new song Lift Me Up has intensified my emotions. It is a beautiful tribute to his memory. Rest assured, on opening night, I will be bringing many tissues.

Thank you, Chadwick. You are missed, you are honored, and you are loved.

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