My uncle picked me up at my hotel in downtown Salt Lake City yesterday afternoon. We drove up to the area around Ogden, Utah. Chuck grew up in Salt Lake, but he calls northern Utah home now. I think he needed to show me the changes in his neck of the woods while we talked. We ended up a at Mongolian BBQ restaurant in a little strip mall during a torrential rainstorm, and that’s where he opened up. That’s where we cried as he told me about Debra, cancer, and the last six months of their lives.
Chuck told me about those first anxious hours when the doctor said, “I have good news, and I have bad news…” He told me about their struggle for information, ANY INFORMATION. He told me how it feels to be ignored and forgotten within the medical establishment. He told me about the effect Deb’s sickness had on their kids. He told me about the day she said, “I don’t think I’m going to make it,” and then he told me about the day Debra said, “I know I’m not going to make it.”
He told me about love and about his beliefs. Chuck says he knows he will be reunited with Debra in Heaven. He knows there is a plan, and that sometimes God needs to call good people back a little early so they can help with work on the other side.
His belief provides comfort to him and his family. It gives them strength, and that gives me a little comfort. In fact, I believe Chuck is beginning to heal. He smiled a lot while talking about Deb. He is already focusing on the good stuff as each day carries him a little further from the acute pain of loosing his wife to cancer.
I return to Seattle and my multimedia work at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in two days, and I have renewed purpose to do what I can to kick cancer in the ass. As a dear friend recently said, “I’m not a scientist, but I have to do something. And this is what I do.”
Farewell Chuck. Try to be strong, but remember it’s okay to cry too. Know that you have not just a nephew in Seattle. You have a friend, and you’re welcome any time.