Monday, November 14, 2016

We are here for the sake of each other

Last week was a heavy week for me. First, the election. When Adam woke up Ben to tell him the results on Wednesday morning, Ben’s response of “UGH” summed it up for many of us. It felt like a mass funeral here at work, we were collectively grieving. (And still are, though now I see more and more people trying to find ways to use their fires to light the world.)

Then one of my best friends—one of my “string sisters” since sixth grade—texted that her 39-year-old brother Sean, who was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in the spring of 2015, had been hospitalized with pneumonia, found out his cancer had spread, and would likely not live through the week. Megan, an oncology nurse, has seen her share of heartbreak, but I imagine nothing can truly prepare a person to watch a member of their immediate family die. 
He had a terminal illness, but he didn’t look or act sick (he kept working out at the gym, even when undergoing chemo) and he was always posting uplifting quotes on Facebook and had such a positive attitude, that I guess we all thought he’d somehow be ok. 
And then, on Thursday night, he wasn’t.
“He passed peacefully” Megan texted us. With that text, he went from present to past tense. A devoted dad, a kind and thoughtful friend, a loyal son, uncle, brother … no longer in and of this world. At one point, he had told Megan’s sister Casey that he didn’t want to die, he didn’t want to miss out on anything, he wanted to grow old and become a grandpa one day. He wasn’t ready.
Even when death was imminent—ready or not—he was gracious, saying please and thank you to the doctors and nurses, asking how they were doing, telling people he was grateful to have the chance to say goodbye, promising his nephews that he’d be watching over them, then joking “but not when you’re changing.” He had a friend go out and buy Megan’s young son one last birthday gift—an Xbox—because he “had to go big, since it was gonna be the last time he’d buy anything for Jacob.”
It still seems surreal. 
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” - Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum 


Em said...

I am so, so sorry. That is so sad. Sending hugs your way.

A. said...

I'm so sorry, Chrissy. That was really quick, since you texted me last week. Praying for peace for your friend and for you, because I know you want to do your best to help. xoxoxo