I’m feeling fairly acclimated and “at home” here in Arizona, which surprises me, because we’ve not even been here 8 months at this point. I still miss Michigan and my friends, but as we plan a mid-summer break up there (and I scour the airlines for good deals), I know we’ll have a great mini-reunion.
But my heart isn’t in Michigan right now – it’s in Kentucky. Dear friends of ours are hurting – people who are family to us. They’ve been with us through thick and thin and right now, they’re in pain. Mike, the father of our friends, is in the final stages of saying goodbye to this world. It’s painful to watch, even from a distance, and I want so much to be there and to hug him, his wife Sherry, and his grown kids (our friends).
Mike has been fighting pancreatic cancer for over a year now, which is quite miraculous in and of itself. Most patients diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer (which is what most people who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer have – it’s silent and doesn’t generally cause pain until it metastasizes) live about seven months. Mike is at 13 months, which about 1% of all people with his diagnosis manage to do. He’s fought valiantly and with gusto, even getting a ‘second wind’ around Christmas where he felt good, was able to go off of his medication, and was well enough to drive. I’m so grateful for that time they had together. It was just a few shorts years ago that our families would mingle on the holidays and we’d cook together, eat together, and play games around the kitchen table. Moving to Michigan and then to Arizona was in our life’s path, but we miss the times we used to have.
As strange as it sounds, I’m praying for Mike to pass quickly and painlessly. God has been gracious to him and his family, and I don’t want to prolong his suffering with my own desires to not have him leave. Mike is 68, and although his life is not long enough, he’s lived with gusto. His footprint is large – he’s lived with generosity, love, and compassion, and he will be greatly missed.
I wish I had the ability to fly out there and see him and hug everyone, but that appears to not be possible right now. So I’ll grieve from a distance, praying and loving the family from here. It’s a temporary “farewell,” but it stings, nonetheless.