The phone call that began his journey will stay with me for a long time. He had been so happy just a few days before, because his doctor told him he was ‘cured.’ No more Hepatitis C. It was gone. After decades of fighting the misery of that disease, he had lived long enough and medicine had advanced far enough to take what proved to be a miracle drug.
Life would change. He had called his daughter and taken her out to lunch where they toasted to his new-found health. She told me today she never thought she would ever have a real drink with her Dad. It was a special lunch.
It was just a couple days later that he called to ask for help. He needed a colonoscopy and he needed it ‘now.’ The results would put him on a path of no return. From ‘cure’ to ‘cancer’ in what felt like a heartbeat.
Metastatic cancer would take him away from family and friends in just 8 months.
His funeral was yesterday: a gathering so large, you would have thought it was a holiday. Instead it was a remembrance so grand to honor this man’s life. There was open weeping, private thoughts, his grandchildren looking perplexed, wondering where their Papa Jay was and most of us thinking how wrong it was to think our friend wasn’t sitting among us. How could those delicately carved angels be cradling him inside that casket?
I watched as they lowered him into his final resting place this morning. The air was crisp. The sky was clear and blue and the Spring buds on the trees around his grave were getting ready to welcome the new season. But best of all there were the birds. At his home, Jay loved to watch the birds from his bedroom window. Five large feeders welcomed all varieties and he was in awe of their visits. He even had a special blanket that was covered in beautiful birds and it went everywhere with him. There wasn’t a hospital visit that didn’t include that blanket.
There were no birds on the feeders today. They knew where they were needed: their song softened our final goodbye.