Sadly, our world lost Stan Lee recently. The world will never be the same because he entered it. While we are sad that he is gone, life does go on, and the amazing Marvel Universe has him to thank for all the wonderful characters he gave us. He did leave behind Spiderman and the X-Men.

Yes, Stan Lee was a national treasure. Yes, Professor Xavier knew how to move objects with his mind, he also knew how to get into a person’s heart and change it to be good. Hence Magneto’s helmet. Magneto wears a helmet to protect him from the massive power of Professor Xavier. He does this because a person who can go inside your head and change your quest to incur harm is more an enemy than someone who can fight you with the same weapon. Professor Xavier wields this power while being wheelchair bound. Not even paralysis can stop his powerful mind. Thus, not even death can end the epically powerful world of Stan Lee.

Lee gave us the new American Dream. The American Dream really is a spirit and not an object. He created characters who personified the battle of good and evil that rages in all of us. I always wanted to meet Stan Lee. I never did, but I still have him to thank for me being here.

I went into writing instead of the medical field because I couldn’t handle the vomiting. I have no issue with the other bodily functions, but because of a rare chronic illness, if I see someone vomit, I start to do it too. If I start, I might die. That’s why I studied word engineering instead of biological engineering.

I spent most of my young life regretting this decision. See, I wanted to help people. In my youth, helping people meant studying medicine. I didn’t feel better about my decision until my first time sitting in a hospital waiting room. I looked around and waited for my turn, and noticed all the other patients reading a copy of the newspaper I worked for at the time. That moment while I waited turned into a fork in the road for me. That moment I realized that yes I could have easily gone to school to be a doctor or a nurse. By doing that my life would serve a purpose and every work day, I would get to help people at the most debilitating moment of their lives.

Still, watching them read the words I wrote made me realize how I was to serve the world. I was put on this planet to help give people temporarily escape from the stressful reality that life sent their way. I watched them sit in the Emergency Room lobby and wait to hear the news that they lost a loved one or the doctor found a terminal illness that was unrecoverable.

When it was my turn to see the doctor, and he decided to hospitalize me, I remember how I started to think about Spiderman. While another doctor came in to ask me if I had filled out an advanced directive and if I had a will, I thought of Spiderman’s web and how he used it to catch bad guys. I then thought of my favorite superhero Rogue and how she once absorbed the powers of Ms. Marvel and became superhuman. I then thought of Wolverine and how if he had my rare illness his advanced immunity would not let him die and he would be able to overcome the potassium crashes and heart attacks associated with my rare and deadly disease that cause certain death.

(Author’s note: while I am writing this one of my co-authors of a book on my illness is in the hospital on a breathing tube from an allergic reaction to a spider bite. Your life-affirming thoughts on this are appreciated.)

Yes, doctors are absolutely one of the best professions for someone who wants to help people. However, creating an escape for people suffering from a debilitating illness is a one-of-a-kind skill, and Stan Lee encompassed this great gift and gave it freely to all of us.

In his biography Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir Lee talks about how reading provided him with an escape from the fighting that came from his mom and dad. He then struggled for years to hit it big with comics and talks openly about failing in the industry. He didn’t become the stuff of legends until he created characters that everyone could relate to. His magnificent ideas helped inspire people and provided an escape for those of us who needed a break from the reality of life. Having that gift is something that can’t be provided by any person. That’s what made him a national treasure.

Not only did Stan Lee give us Spiderman and happily appeared in cameos when his creations hit the big screen, he also lifted all our spirits. There are naysayers who call the American Dream dead and say that once everyone wanted to just own a house. See, these people are wrong. The American Dream isn’t stuff made from bricks and mortar. The American Dream is a unique spirit that lives in this wonderful land of the melting pot.

You can destroy bricks and mortar, but you can’t break a collective spirit. He carried the freedom flag, and until recently he had to put it down to ascend to go be with his wife. For this, all of us are grateful. He will henceforth only be able to make cameos as a ghost. Oh, that incredible spirit though. He was/is the stuff of legends. He’s the reason I made it through my many hospital visits. Without people like him, we have to face the harsh reality of life without imagination. Life without imagination is no life at all. Thank you, Stan Lee!

Tammy Marshall is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of writing. If you really want to get her on a subject, bring up Star Trek. She loves talking about traveling through space and what Gene Roddenberry’s vision did for science. When she’s not plotting interstellar travel, she’s digging in the dirt. Her vegetables are legendary and her chickens have won awards. When her hands aren’t in the garden, she’s traveling to conventions around the country hoping to inspire the next person willing to go to Mars and aid Elon Musk on his mission.


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