Monday, September 5, 2011

You meet a man, under the most intense of circumstances. Both of you have traveled to Mayo to seek the best medical care in the world for illnesses that have come uninvited into your life. You share a common bond and struggle for 4 weeks getting to know each other however briefly: your wives, kids and careers. And then you go your separate ways. He back to his home in Minnesota and me to Oregon. And then you find out he died, and you find yourself sobbing uncontrollably.

Jeff Reid. I hardly knew him. But in our time of mutual crisis we were together. Sitting up with him late at night when he couldn't sleep because of all of the drugs he was on. Getting him to laugh when his world consisted of dialysis, chemo and one unpleasant test after another. When I left him at Mayo I doubted he would last a year. Then two years later we met for lunch, he Monica, Jeanine and I, and he was doing so great. He was talkative, vibrant and looking forward to so many possiblities in front of him. And today I find out he died, and today I cried. I don't know whether it's because of the special bond that is created when you go through such an intense time with someone, or whether it brings back home to me the fragile line so many of my friends from Mayo have been walking.

I barely knew Jeff, but I understood the battles he and Monica had been through with his illness. I don't know why his passing hit me so hard. It was his time. On a spiritual level I have no fear of death or what comes after. He is the fifth one of my housemates, that I know of, that has passed since my stay at Mayo. Such strong people with such strong wills to live. Your physical struggles and pain are now over my friend. We were friends, if only for a short time. Be at peace, and may Monica and your children be blessed with memories of your strength and love for them.

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