There are all sorts of ways to move through this life.
Some are walking. Some try running. Still others, weary, crawl.
But there's another method, demonstrated by the rarest of people: Those who dance.
Nov. 1 was just like a lot of other Sunday mornings in the Madden home.
Herman and Sue were up, readying themselves for church, when they realized the time had changed.
That left them a few extra minutes.
"We were all dressed up with somewhere to go," Herman said. "We just didn't have to be there yet."
The clicking of piano keys, from the radio in the adjacent room, filled the living room. Johnny Mathis silked out the first few lines of "Chances Are," one of the couple's favorite songs.
In that moment, Herman and Sue could have done any number of things. Herman took his bride of 40 years by the hand.
And the Maddens danced.
SWELL TO SURREAL
Rewind to Sept. 16.
That Wednesday began for Herman and Sue with a three-mile walk through their Lake Murray neighborhood.
That wasn't out of the ordinary. They'd grown accustomed to that kind of time for exercise.
It's no coincidence that Herman, 61, and Sue, 57, always have been sharp - mentally and physically.
The day built toward the climax of a family birthday party. It was another common event for the Maddens, whose three children and six grandchildren live within an hour of their home.
The party winding down, Herman offered to drive his grandson home - a distance of only a mile or so.
One giant problem: Herman doesn't remember that.
Nor does he remember dropping his grandson off. Nor does he remember passing out and driving into a ditch, with his truck winding up on its side.
Nor does he recall somehow wiggling out of the vehicle's window, despite several cracked ribs and a broken nose.
The first things Herman does remember are the things he would much rather forget. So would everyone else.
Besides the pounding pain in his chest, his doctors were talking about something that wasn't right in his tests.
SURREAL TO SORROW
Additional exams revealed that Herman had lung cancer, which already had spread to his brain and several other places through his seemingly healthy body.
Doctors saw "four things," each of which weren't good.
Herman felt no indication, no warning signs. He just drove a mile that turned out to be a journey into a nightmare.
Radiation treatment began immediately. When his injuries from the wreck had healed enough, he started chemotherapy.
Three times a week, Herman visited a cancer center in Columbia that sees 600 to 800 patients - a day.
The Maddens positively point out many of those people are healing or will be healed. Sue calls it the "Hope Center."
But Herman? He's not on the sunny side of the center. No, he was given nine months to live in September.
Two weeks ago, the difficult decision was made to stop Herman's chemo. It wasn't doing any good.
The next step is a clinical trial. Herman will be the second person in South Carolina, and the 123rd worldwide, to receive a particularly potent cocktail of medication.
It could lead to a miracle, but the side effects could make him feel even worse than the cancer already does.
Herman just nods at that idea.
"I haven't been afraid," he said. "I just do what they tell me to. It's not so hard. I do want to play golf, though."
SORROW TO SWEET
Still, the Maddens regularly remind you they're way more blessed than stressed.
When she was a little girl, Sue's single father made the incredibly difficult decision to give her over to Thornwell. The orphanage in Clinton could provide better and more consistent care than he could, he heartbreakingly reasoned.
Still at Thornwell more than a decade later, Sue was 18 when Herman showed up. He came as a stand-in date for his brother, who had to bail because of a military obligation.
Herman wasn't there for Sue. He was there to take out a girl named Bubbles.
"But I walked in and saw Sue standing at the top of the stairs," Herman said, recalling the scene playing out from 1969. "I knew right then I was going to marry that girl."
Sue was receptive to his courting, which initially came in the way of a steady stream of love letters. Then, Sue would sneak out of the orphanage for impromptu dates.
Six months later, 19-year-old Herman and 18-year-old Sue eloped and married.
The Maddens were madly in love. Still are. They're so in love that their cup has run over and coated the world around them.
Brian Morris is covered by the Maddens' love.
Morris, a 30-something insurance agent in Columbia, had an idea a year ago.
For Christmas, he implored his family members to consider giving gifts to another family, one in need, instead of each another.
In a roundabout way, that led Brian and his father to Sue's GOoD Works office in Chapin.
GOoD Works is a charity Sue helped start several years ago. The mission's statement: See a need in the Midlands - home repair, supplying clothing, simply providing company, anything - meet the need.
Sue could have spent her life jaded by being abandoned. She could have spent her days trying to salve her own heart. But, no, she's found purpose by pouring into others.
Herman supports her every step. He gets a kick out of watching her in motion.
Two years ago, for example, the couple allowed strangers to stay in their home. A teenage boy and his mother were living in a car until the Maddens set them on their feet again.
The boy? He's now on a full college scholarship, on his way to becoming a dentist.
"This woman, she was an angel," Brian said of his first encounter with Sue. "It was just amazing to be in her presence."
The angel looked Morris in the eye. She knew he had come to play a part in her work - God's work, she'll tell you.
"She saw something in me that I didn't see," Morris said. "But I thought, if that's what she sees in me, then maybe it's really there."
Morris came alongside GOoD Works, gathering physical and spiritual help from his various spheres of influence in the state capital.
His passion project in 2009 was a Gaston home that, to say the least, needed a makeover.
"It was literally an environmental hazard," he said.
Thanks to Morris and GOoD Works, the house is now a suitable place to live. The family living there is happier and healthier as 2010 begins.
"Everybody has a heart to help," Morris said. "They just don't know where to serve. Sue and GOoD Works give people the direction they don't even know they're missing. Together, what we can all do is literally limitless."
Cam Liles is covered by the Maddens' love, too.
Cam is Herman and Sue's 11-year-old grandson, daughter Meg and son-in-law Brandon's boy.
He was one of several kids who came in June to take part in another GOoD Works summer workday. Well, there was an ulterior motive at play, too.
The kids wanted to get close to some local celebs: the South Carolina football team.
About 20 Gamecocks were part of the day, which included a lot of labor on a house for a needy family.
After the work was done, some of the players decided to share their testimonies.
One player's story caught Cam's attention.
From that point on, he became enamored with senior center Garrett Anderson.
When Cam went to games at Williams-Brice Stadium, he wasn't watching the Gamecocks. He watched Garrett. Even when Garrett wasn't playing.
Because of Anderson's profession of faith, Cam decided he'd like to become a Christian, too. Now he is regularly in church, as are several of the Maddens' family members who weren't before Herman's diagnosis.
That makes Sue beam.
Anderson surprised Cam with a Christmas visit and a game-worn jersey last week.
Herman is a lifelong Clemson fan, but he still can appreciate that.
Sports are part of the glue in this family. So perhaps it's no surprise to see the sports world loving the Maddens in this time.
Family friend Woody Dantzler, the former Clemson quarterback, helped Herman get a suite seat for the Oct. 31 Coastal Carolina game.
Earlier in the season, Tigers coach Dabo Swinney sent a heart-felt, handwritten card.
Swinney told the Maddens he'd pray for them and offered a Bible verse of encouragement. Jeremiah 29:11 is a reminder of God's plan of hope for the futures of those who believe.
Seven days before Christmas, it's pouring with the temperature hovering near freezing. But it's warm inside the Maddens' home.
Seconds after arrival, you're offered a three-course lunch - possibly due to the dozens and dozens of meals cooked by friends since Herman received his news.
Sue says she's cooked only once since Sept. 16.
(Herman smiles as he says her chicken dish wasn't all that great. "I've lost my touch," she moans.)
On an ottoman, there's a heavy basket filled to the top with get-well cards.
After learning about Herman, seven people from the community came to the house and - in four days - turned a screened-in back porch into a downstairs bedroom so Herman didn't have to worry about getting up and down stairs.
Four hundred people attended a prayer vigil held in October at the Maddens' church in Chapin.
Sue repeatedly says she cannot understand what they've done to deserve all this.
There are gentle reminders all around that life has changed in recent months. Some are subtle.
There's a Christmas ornament in the adjoining dining room that Herman made by hand two weeks ago. It says, "It'll be OK." He perhaps was reminding himself as much as he was his wife, friends and family.
Sue signs every one of her now-famous e-mail updates - now going out to more than 500 people - with her name and the phrase "expect a miracle."
"In the end, no matter what, we get our miracle," Sue says. "He'll be healed."
'I'M GOING TO BE OK'
The Maddens are sustained by their faith. They believe, along with so many others here, that myriad positive things will be drawn from this experience because of that faith in God.
Not just God's power to heal, although that prayer has jogged upstairs tirelessly. But God's power to make it make sense.
Sometimes that message is lost in translation - between Heaven and Herman.
That moment came recently when everyone learned the chemo wasn't doing its job.
"We're in this storm. We're sinking. We're just sinking," Sue says. "But then there's the light from the lighthouse."
Clarity and peace arrive in that instant to say to Herman and Sue that these things are all part of a plan much, much, much bigger than they are.
They are happy to be part of that plan, even in midst of a winter of intense emotional, mental and physical pain.
"I want to live," Herman says, eyes staring at yours and lifting to the living room wall that is dotted with dozens of pictures of his children and grandchildren. "I want to see these kids grow up."
He pauses as all three people in the room cry.
Then comes the clarity, the peace. Herman flashes a smile.
"But I'm going to be OK," he says. "I know it. I am."