I wish I had known you better. Isn't that the line from most of the folks left behind?
You Scouted with my brother-in-law, my nephew, my parents-in-law, but my boys were still in Cubs as yours were earning Eagle. You always asked about them, though.
I remember celebrating one Saturday afternoon church service with you maybe 5 or 6 years ago? We were at Aviston Elementary, with you happy to be another year cancer free. I knew you were a Stage 4 diagnosis probably 5 years before, something about your knee or leg. Your thoughts on scans each year - at least you knew you should be around another year. The rest of us, no telling what was going on inside our skin.
And then you had this crazy growth above your knee a little over a year ago. I made a point to stop by your hospital room on my shifts, but found you well-medicated after surgery. You christened me Darcy, your dog's name. I laughed, as I had woken you up and you had some good drugs on board. I had a couple of former coworkers take care of me the night of my surgery, and one of them I didn't remember at all, so you were doing better than I did on remembering names! You fussed at me because I didn't take the time to visit Sybil while she was there recovering, too. I should have, but wasn't sure she could put a name to my face beyond a friendly "hello" around town. Having been on the opposite side of the hospital gown now, you were right - I should take the time and check on folks anyway. It's just the right thing to do. As for your leg, the pathology wasn't rocket science. Cancer from the radiation that killed the original cancer. Well, that was just crummy, but we will put you on the prayer chain, do some more cancer-killing bad stuff, and it was supposed to all be okay.
I was diagnosed on Martin Luther King Monday. University of Scouting, an all-day adult training event, was on Saturday. I already knew I was giving up my Tiger Scouts by then, and wondered why I even bothered to go. I was still hurting from the biopsy, and hurting more from the results. Tom was sick, and needed to go to the doctor that Saturday morning. He wanted me to go to some of the classes for him. I went through the motions. I learned how to tie a knot or two. I picked up some easy games and a craft idea or two to use with the Tigers. I found some resources that I wish I had had to give to the dad that took over for me, and put together a notebook for him. After lunch, I saw you down the hall on the way to one of my classes. You had that snow white hair from whatever chemo drug it was, and you hobbled a bit on that bad knee. Your hug and our talk was the absolute best medicine that day. You were one of the first guys I talked to about this women's disease. It didn't matter which body part. You knew the fear I was feeling, and the crap that was to come for me. Joan made the age connection a month or so ago for me - your boys were close to the age of my boys when you were diagnosed. There was for you then, and still is for me a lot of raising kids to do. And I totally understand the adult scouting thing now. I am ok being a Scout Widow in this season of life.
You got sicker and sicker, and there wasn't a heck of a lot any of us could do. I've been in hospitals long enough to know about how your story would end, and it was hard for me to watch you while I wrestled my own cancer demons. I was glad to be able to drive Joan over the river last month, though. Good to know that my radiation was good for something beyond myself!
I just wish you had gotten one more of everything out of life. One more Christmas with your now-grown boys. One more snowfall. One more night on the back porch...
Jimmy's Eagle project was a labyrinth. I was sad to see it torn up when we built the church in the cornfield, and glad Matt re-did it as his Eagle project this summer & fall. I couldn't do the sanctuary for the service today. Even the kitchen was too close. And so when I needed some fresh air, I walked the labyrinth. It was sunny, breezy, cool. The wind made the yellow corn rustle beautifully.
And in honor of your career, military and civilian, as a pilot, it was a good day to go flying. Fly high, Rick. Breathe easy, my friend.