Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Saying Good-Bye To A True Fighter

The end of last week, we received a call from the family of one of my husband's friends. We were told that he had passed away and the time and place of the wake and the funeral. It was a call we have been expecting to hear for the past 6 weeks. He had come home from the hospital to die and his family and friends knew it.

Facing the death of a loved one if it comes quick or if it was expected is never pleasant and the fighter I am talking about was told 18 years ago that he had 6 months to live. This is a true miracle! Unfortunately I never met him, he was a friend of my husband and he lived in the same town we do but circumstances never made it possible.

Over the past 8 or more years I have spoken to him on the phone when he called to ask for my husband. He was always pleasant and we spoke as if we knew each other. Over the past 2 years I have talked with his wife who called asking for my husband. Either to tell him that his friend was in the hospital or that something needed to be fixed around the house. They would call and he would go to fix the heat, the furnace, the whatever. They would pay him and he would turn around and put it back in his kids trust funds. He always told me that his friend was the best man he knew. Coming from my unemotional husband who doesn't talk about feeling much said a lot to me. This was not something you say about just anyone and if HE was saying it, this was something you could take to the bank.

6 weeks ago I got the call from his wife saying that he was in the hospital, coming out of a seizure and called for my husband. This made me very uneasy because he could call for anyone but he chose to call for my husband. I don't know about you but if a dying man asks for someone, you need to get there. His wife asked if I had a minute and I told her yes, I always had time for her. Having never met her in person, we have spent time talking on the phone for years. This call was different. She usually was tired but she never broke down. It was one of the hardest calls of my life and I cried with her as she told me that her husband had thought he heard mine in the room when he was seizing and was asking for him. I cried when she told me that the doctors have told him that there is nothing more that can be done and I cried with her when she said that he asked to come home so he could die. I cried for him, for their 3 kids, but mostly I cried for her.

Their life has centered around his hospital visits, recouping, tests, operations, and worse. He has been on deaths door more time than anyone would care to count but has always come back stronger and fighting more. Now he was admitting that he fought his last fight and he was ready to rest.

What I regret most was never meeting her before his wake. She knew I was available so I never inserted myself until she called me on to talk but it was very difficult to meet her under such devastating circumstances.

We walked hand in hand into the funeral home and waited in line. She sat in a chair surrounded by her children and her eldest daughter's boyfriend. She wore black and looked broken. I had to hold myself back because I wanted to run to her, throw myself in her lap and sob the biggest tears ever. When we finally got up to her my husband knelt before her and she wrapped herself around him after saying his name and sobbed for what seemed like eternity but was probably 5 minutes at least. The whole time all I could do was hold her shoulder and rub her back. He finally stood and was about to introduce me "this is my w......" when she said my name and we clung to each other as if we had known each other forever. I will never get the way she said my name out of my head. It was so sad, broken, devastating, yet I could hear relief. Relief that we had come and were there.

She had always told me how much they look like each other and that was the first thing that came out of my mouth, "you were right, they do look alike."

My husband knew a lot of people there as the guys had worked together for years. I listened as they all discussed this man that I never knew but had heard of for years. He was a great father, a great man, a miracle, someone who never gave up, someone who lived like he was dying and he was. He never knew when his number was up so he made sure to do and say all the things he needed to.

When it was finally time to leave we headed back up to the family. My husband wasn't sure what to say but then never shut up. He told stories and recounts of his time with her husband their father. She listened and his son, the middle child smiled the whole time. They were clinging to his stories like each one was a gasp of air that they needed to survive. He told them that he would be there for them. That he would drive by to make sure they were ok and if they needed anything to call him. She asked if that would be ok and he said of course, "my door is always open, literally, help yourself to anything in the fridge. My house is your house and the winter is coming I will have to clean your boiler, yada, yada, yada." She said, that her husband would want him to do whatever needed to be done and then she asked him to come closer, "she said, "I love you because he loved you. I love your wife because you love her." Then she turned to me and told me that she loved me and I said it back and meant it.

The moment I will never forget was her son, 14 years old, called my husband just as we were about to walk away and said, "before my dad died, he told me that if I ever needed anything or if I ever need to talk I should talk to you."

My husband told him of course, he said that he would always be there and something like, "your father always knew I was right. I may not have all the answers but I have the right answers. I used to tell him that if he ever thought I was wrong that he should refer to the fact that I was always right" yada, yada.

We walked out and I said, "wow, he wants you to look out for his son. He did that for a reason and you need to make sure you will be there." I really want my husband to make a very big effort in this boy's life. He will need him and it was important to this boy's father. He could have called on anyone but he called on my husband. My husband shouted, "oh thanks man! Just what I needed." I was like, what? He said, oh he would know what I was talking about and he would have found that funny. He used to tell me "hey, you Spaniards have to do something, you just can't cross our borders." He is making sure I do something.

D-Wherever you are, I hope you are pain free and resting. You would be so proud of your family and how strong your children were. You did a fabulous job and everyone respects and admires you. There were thousands of pictures of you and your children smiling and they will have years of memories of you being there. We should all be as strong and determined as you. Rest in peace and know that your family had an amazing role model and your strength shines through.


  1. There's no limit to the ways one life can touch another, is there? Thanks for stopping by my blog. Your wordless is so sweet, and so familiar. Swings. How simple.

  2. What a beautiful post! What a beautiful life! You are blessed to have been a part of the celebration of his life!

  3. I am very sorry for your loss. Your words written here today are a lovely testament to this man. May everyone who knew him find peace, healing and comfort.

    Tink *~*~*
    My Mobile Adventures *~*~*

  4. Tracy, Thank you for your kind words. I wrote this as a way to remember the day but I am touched that people actually read it.

    Junebug, Thank you so much for reading.

    The Butterfly Catcher, He did have a blessed life and thank you for reading my post.

    Tink, Thank you so much for your kind words. I appreciate you taking the time to read it.

  5. God bless your families.

  6. Anonymous9:03 AM

    There are no words...I was so sorry to hear of D's passing.

    As we said the other day, much respect to a true fighter who made the most of his time here...with a wonderful wife, family and a great friend like your husband.


I love comments. Please feel free to leave a comment. I would love to talk to you further