As I start off writing this new post, I am trying to remember how long he has been gone. Wow, the end of January. So almost 9 months has gone by since I lost my friend who could have been more had fate decided otherwise.
Our lives really are decided on timing and the choices we make. Before I went back to Hartwick for my senior year, I reconnected with Jon who would eventually become my husband. I had decided for myself that this was fate that we were going to end up together. I went back to school for my senior year and I met this guy through the telethon work I was doing for the school. Dave was from a small town near me, so we did occasionally see other during school breaks. My husband wasn't able to make it to my sorority formal in November so I asked Dave to come with me. Little did I realize how much fun I would have with him that we would end up spending the whole next day together.
Things progressed that year and we became close, very close. There was a lot of heavy flirting and more. But, Dave knew where I was coming from and I told him I could only give so much, that choices had already been made. The night before I graduated, there were lots of kisses and lots of smoke.
Yep, Dave was a smoker. But then again, so was I. For those of you who follow my running/exercise posts, pick your chins off the floor. It is true. During college, it was a pack a day habit. After college, it continued to maybe 1/3 of a pack, 1/2 a pack habit. By this time, I had also gained quite a bit of weight so not only was I obese but also a smoker. A deadly combination. But if I quit smoking, then I would probably gain more weight too, so I needed to get the weight under control first.
I hadn't seen Dave since I graduated or even talked to him for that matter. It was probably better that way. We had both gone our separate ways, got married and had our families. Leave it to the power of facebook to find people. I found Dave and we reconnected. It was good to find him again and see what was going on. And that's when I realized what was going on. CANCER. Effin' cancer. Stage 3 Lung Cancer. Are you frickin' kidding me? He was 37. Way too young for lung cancer, or any cancer as far as I was concerned. My father-in-law had passed away from lung cancer at 61 and smoked 2 packs a day, unfiltered. That I could understand. But I couldn't understand this. I mean, I had smoked too. Why was this happening to him and not me? And he had a daughter that was not even 2 yet and found out that another little one was on the way. By the time I found this all out, I had successfully quit smoking for 2 years and had taken on a new addiction (working out) Thank God I had seen the light.
I had lots of tears as I realized what was going on with my friend and kept myself updated on his website, caringbridge.org. Dave lived for another 13 months after that, enough time to welcome the birth of a baby girl and have 2 Christmas's. The cancer had spread to his brain and I knew what that meant. The same thing had happened to my father-in-law. By the time he got pneumonica, I braced myself for the news that would eventually come. A week or so later, he passed away. I cried that entire morning as I realized Dave was gone, I cried for his family, his wife, his daughters.
I thought a lot about what I could do to tell his story. The story of a young man who never knew his life would be cut short because of mistakes made in his youth. So I will be running races in his honor to spread the word about living a healthy lifestyle. I am running because at the end, he had an oxygen tank. I am lucky enough to be able to run with the breath in my clean lungs.
I also urge you to visit caringbridge.org and consider making a donation. Or if you have a family member or friend who is going through a health crisis, consider using this website to share their stories, their fight and keep in touch with others. CaringBridge is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit providing free websites that connect family and friends during a serious health event, care and recovery.
CaringBridge.org is a website that is personal, private and available 24/7. It helps ease the burden of keeping family and friends informed. The websites are easy to create and use. The authors add health updates and photos to share their story while visitors leave messages of love and support in the guestbook.
I still miss you and love you. Rest in peace, my friend.