Again. Again with pit of my stomach burning and the overwhelming nauseous feeling. On one hand, I’ve wished the relief of it for him lately, but on the other, I keep thinking,
“He died? But how could he die?”
We’ve watched our friend cheat death and bang back cancer for a year and a half, and then suddenly, the realization that his body was beyond repair hit.
But it was not a defeat.
This man. He said goodbye. He said goodbye to everyone. Personally. Just yesterday in hospice care, completely aware and thoughtful, he sent out pictures to previous neighbors of their children at birthday parties where we had all celebrated together. Last night, he chatted with my husband online, preparing him for today, because he knew that his lungs would be deteriorated to the point of no return. He was so present, even knowing what he knew.
He wrote letters to his children.
He sat with his wife and planned for her future. Who does that?
He showed us all how to fight, to research every possible hope, and to live in each moment. And I know so very well that “to live in each moment” is very cliche. Honestly, I’ve never seen someone live in each moment like him. It was extremely deliberate the way he did it.
It feels super shitty that I’m talking about him in past tense.
He experienced every single thing about his cancer. The physical pain of it. The emotional weight of it. The toll it took on him, his wife, his children, his family and friends. He would ask for help when it was needed and he would ask for space when that was needed. He and his wife both have done that, and it has been the most graceful, gracious thing.
He let me feel his swollen spleen and taught me how his first chemotherapy drugs altered the protein enzymes in his eyes to turn them an even more brilliant blue.
He dragged a keg of his beer from his car and onto our back porch, so his friends could tap and enjoy, even when his clothes hung from his body because they didn’t fit anymore.
We sat with him during his chemo treatments in the hospital and made too much noise and laughed too loud, much to his joy. I’d do that again and again.
His wife and girls spent a long day with us when he was recovering from a treatment, just swinging and wandering and playing and sharing a meal, for the simple reason of just needing to. We didn’t even really talk that much that day, and that felt ok.
So this morning, I prayed. I prayed fervently, “God, can you please take him when its time? Please grab him and hold him and love him?”
And aside from that burning stomach thing, that’s about all I’ve got. I don’t know how to do this very well. It feels like we’ve lost something pretty important and are trying to find it in a big hole.
You have an enormous blast radius, Paul & Kristin. Love you.