I’ve posted a few photos taken on the Lake Erie shores over the past week. This is yet another. I was standing out in the middle of the lake, directly off shore. Gulls were flying about, nary another soul around. Peace and solitude. A different perspective from the everyday world of life.
As I stood, soaking in the sense of peace bestowed upon me in this moment, I had no idea how important it would be in the upcoming week, this injection of peace. My weeks are generally fraught with people who are angry about one thing or another, be they families we serve or our employees. Its absolutely impossible to work in this type of environment without its taking a toll on your emotions. This particularly stressful week was fraught with labor-management issues. Issues I did not initiate but, because of a string of events, landed in my lap to deal with. Tensions are high and palpable.
Worst of all was the call I received from the courthouse early Wednesday morning. A good friend and colleague, only 61 years old, had died of lung cancer. Diagnosed in early June, taken in early August. His last email to me was during a chemo session. He was going to call me as soon as he was feeling better. But he will not be calling me. Chemotherapy was not able to be given consistently due to a persistent lung infection. And then he was gone. Just like that.
Part of me feels irrationally guilty. At a benefit dinner we attended together, he’d told me he’d been experiencing pain and thought it was a pulled muscle. I started telling him my sister-in-law’s story. Persistent back pain she thought was a pulled muscle. Several MRIs and scans later, it was finally identified as tumors all over her body. I stopped mid-story. I didn’t want to scare him. But he insisted I finish telling him. I reassured him it was probably nothing like that and, at the same time, encouraged him to get it checked out.
And it was cancer. And he’s gone. Just like that.
Where did you go? I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye.
I’m going to miss you, my friend.
In memory of my friend, who loved these very waters and beaches. It won’t be the same around here without you.