Over the past 12 months, my world has been rocked—hard and often. I've kept most of it off this space. When I've been absent here or in your worlds, it's been because I've been trying to find ways to cope with the latest piece of craptastic news life has tossed in the general direction of my family, my friends, or me.
For my husband and me, the worst news came in mid-March. Don, the husband of one of our dearest friends, was diagnosed with Stage IV Esophageal Cancer. Less than six months earlier, my brother lost his best friend to this insidious disease. My mother's best friend's husband lost his battle a couple of years ago. We knew we'd just heard a death sentence. The only question was when.
Don died on September 24th. He was 48.
Today we'll be heading out to sea to spread his ashes and celebrate his life.
Don and our friend were married in Boston's South Church on March 21, 2009. A second marriage for both. In the brief period they were married, they lived large. It was eerily prescient that they chose to celebrate their anniversary every month in big and important ways. Their adventures took them all over the country to sporting events, concerts, and family gatherings. I don't think I've ever seen two people more happy to be together than them.
He was the quintessential technogeek. Just look at this self-portrait taken using both his iPad and his iPhone. I'm surprised that he's not hooked into his iPod in this shot.
Not long after his diagnosis, Don and our friend flew back east to spend time with Don's family and friends. His aunts had light blue rubber bracelets made stamped with, "D3's Band of Hope." Don was a supporter of charitable causes targeting finding a cure for childhood cancer. I never saw him without his brightly colored bands on both wrists—even on his wedding day. In a way, his aunts couldn't not have those bands made for us. It was a Don thing.
Whenever I was having a bad day, all I had to do was look down at my left wrist and finger the stamped phrase to be reminded how much worse things could be. I got through many tough days knowing that my life was a piece of cake compared to what Don was going through. Don dealt with all of it with dignity, courage, and that special brand of dry New Hampshire wit I love so much.
Please know I'm not a crazy weepy mess today. I've had plenty of those days already. Today is a celebration of the life of a man who enriched mine in ways I'll never be able to repay no matter how much paying forward I do.
His strength and generosity of spirit were also an inspiration for my husband. I don't often mention RM here because he values his privacy. Whenever I mention him, I always refer to him as RM, which is my code for "running man." He started running in January of 2009. He'll be running his first half-marathon on November 13th. My oh-so-introverted husband has decided to go public with this to honor Don by raising funds for the charity closest to Don's heart, CureSearch, devoted to finding a cure for childhood cancer.
I'm over-the-moon ecstatic about his commitment to running and his fundraising efforts.
If you'd like to contribute a little something, please head on over to his page: Rick's Fundraising Page or click on the button in the top left corner of the side bar. (For those of you who know my last name, please don't be confused by the difference. He really is my husband. I asked him if he wanted to take my name when we married and he chose to keep his own. Go figure.)
Before I head out, I want to thank you all so much for something you didn't know you were doing. Your comments, your blog posts, your photography—they all helped me keep my head above water during Don's illness and after his passing. I will be back to being a more active visitor once things have settled down around here.
I'll leave you with Don's favorite quote:
Go then. There are other worlds than these."
~ Stephen King (Dark Towers)
~ Stephen King (Dark Towers)