There’s never a good place to start, when it comes to talking about endings. Unfortunately we all find our way their with time. Some endings come sooner than others, well rehearsed, scripted, planned. Others by surprise and take your breath away, in a more literal sense.
We had a great loss today, kiddo. I don’t even know how to tell you about it. Your Pawpaw was taken away from us by cancer. He was diagnosed 4 weeks ago with terminal liver, colon, and lung cancer. He was given between 12 and 18 months to live, if he underwent intensive chemotherapy. He was able to get one treatment before succumbing to the disease.
Today was his last day. And to you, today was much like any other. You woke up and had eggs and pancakes (you didn’t even eat your pancake, so I had to) and went to school to see your friends and learn. When I picked you up you were sitting on the floor trying to put your shoes on over your pee-soaked socks; you’d had an accident in the bathroom. All these things happen, as it seems: cancer, pee, pancakes.
It’s not like any other day though, kiddo. The world has experienced a great loss. Your Pawpaw, Brent. I’ve been trying, for two days, why his sickness has struck a chord like no one else in a long time, even after experiencing so much loss over the last few years, and I think I am beginning to understand: I am not mourning my own loss, I am morning for everyone. He was one of the best men I have ever met, and we’re all at a disadvantage without him. I am sad because he was taken away too early, not just from you and us, but because the world needs him.
So I am trying to figure out how to tell you. You’ve already been talking about Pawpaw being in the “Hopspital.” You know he’s sick and he needs many doctors. I just don’t know how to take that extra step, the “death” step. Part of me just doesn’t want to. One day you’ll know what happened, and I never had to try my best to explain the finality of death to an (almost) 4 year old. That’s the easy way, but I’m not sure it’s the best way. I’m not quite sure of any of this, really.
Your mother and your grandmother need extra support and extra love right now. While I am at a loss, I cannot imagine their grieving. I just hope I can help in any way I can. You’re already helping, kiddo, by just being yourself. You’re the best medicine in this situation. You continue to live and love life, and that’s going to be the best way to help everyone move forward.
Brent Anderson, you will be missed. Thanks for taking the time to show me what it means to be a real, decent man. I am a better man and father for having known you, and I am honored to have been a part of your life. I’ll do my best to keep this family healthy and happy.
Now you rest amongst the stars, friend. As Carl Sagan said: “…we are made of the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”
I miss you, always.