Difficult times

Yesterday I did one of those things that truly sucks to do but at the same time is truly important to do: I went to visit a dying friend. Doug was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer about half a year ago, underwent (unsuccessful) treatment over the winter, and last week moved to a hospice home.

I was there for about an hour, and it was simultaneously lovely and heartbreaking to see him. His body was clearly failing him and he was in much pain, and though he didn’t talk much his eyes twinkled occasionally as it was clear he was hearing and enjoying the conversation around him. Doug and I had worked at the same dot-com startup (which he co-founded) a little over a decade ago, and I remember him most for his intellectual curiosity, his love of words (he wrote crossword puzzles for The New York Times), and his love of theater, especially Stephen Sondheim. In fact, Doug was responsible for my proper introduction to that music. One day at work he was horrified to discover that I didn’t know much about Sondheim and set out to rectify that immediately: we spent the next hour listening to Pacific Overtures in his office. The last time (before yesterday) that I saw Doug in person, in fact, was in the spring of 2003, when he organized a group of people to see a professional production of Pacific Overtures at the Arden theater in Philadelphia.

I left the hospice yesterday with a heavy heart, fairly certain I would not see him again. And feeling a bit sad and bewildered by the randomness with which these sorts of things happen to people. Over dinner last night I explained to my seven-year-old daughter that I had gone to visit a friend who was dying and told her about him. “Is he a nice person?” she asked. “Oh yes, very nice,” I told her.

This afternoon the message went out: Doug is gone. I read the post and started crying, and my daughter started crying too when I told her what happened. “Why are you crying?” I asked, since she’d never met him. “Because he was a nice man and I miss him,” she replied.

You know what? He was a nice man. And a lot of people will miss him.

5 Responses to “Difficult times”

  1. Chrison 25 May 2012 at 6:22 pm

    *hugs* So very sorry about the loss of your friend.
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  2. Knittymamaon 27 May 2012 at 7:55 am

    I’m so very sorry. He sounds like he was a really wonderful person.
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  3. Evelinon 29 May 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I’m sorry.
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  4. Frankon 23 Jun 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Marsha, I haven’t been to your blog for a while so I’ve just read this entry. I would like to say that I’m very sorry for your loss.

  5. […] I logged into the website, I was greeted with a list of other groups I belong to: one for Doug, and one for Melinda. I read the Caring Bridge updates (in both cases, written by their spouses) as […]