On October 28, at 10:32pm, my dear friend, Rick Shambaugh, passed away.
Funny; You tend to remember the date and exact time when you lose someone you love.
Rick carried liver disease for the past year, and it finally caught up with him. We -- his friends -- worried that he may some day succumb to the disease, all the time hoping he'd be fine. But five days prior to his passing, he suddenly lost consciousness.
I was fortunate to visit him Tuesday morning, 13 hours before his eventual passing. As Fate/God/Providence would have it, he woke up as I entered his hospital room. Just Rick and me.
I spoke, I encouraged him, and told him I loved him.
With all the strength he could muster, he whispered "I love you too, Don", then fell back into that sleep between this world and the next. Those were to be his final words.
Like most of his friends, I was in shock and disbelief. When I learned of his end that night, I was fine. My son offered to fly back from Utah to comfort me. I would never say "No" to a visit from my son, so sure ... why not? But I was fine.
But Wednesday morning, it hit me. I cried -- finally -- that releasing weeping during which you pour out your anguish, your grief, your resignation to the fact that you'll never see your dear friend again.
Then, I wept again as I made a simple tribute to him.
I finally had to set aside my time and emotions to go to the train station to pick up Ian. Once I saw him, a cloud left me like I've never experienced. Suddenly, and finally, I wasn't grieving. I was happy.
I think, when you lose a loved one, somewhere in your subconscious mind you think life will never be the same again (which is true) and that it's somehow ruined.
But seeing my son renewed my life. I realized that I still have love to give and receive, laughs and tears to share, and memories to create. I'm not losing Rick so much; it's more as though he and I built our time together, our list of memories complete ... and now those memories will be sewn into the quilt of my life, a blanket of comfort in quiet times.
Rest In Peace my beloved friend.