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A friend of mine died on 3/8 from a stroke. He was a runner and a very healthy 51 years old. I knew him from getting into a carpool with him (Don) and another guy about 6 years ago. The other dropped out and Don and I carpooled for about a year. His work schedule then changed and that ended the car pool. You really get to learn a lot about a person when you spend two 45-minute trips a day in a car with them.

Don’s wife came down with breast cancer a few years ago. She has been battling that ever since and I heard it had spread to her spine. Don has a 20-year-old daughter from a previous marriage who he raised since birth until she was 10 on his own. He then got remarried. They adopted a young boy 4 or 5 years ago. He told me he expected to be assuming the single parent duties again any time due to his wife’s cancer problem.

Well we got an email from HR last Friday that had Employee Death/Memorial Notification as the subject. The average age where I work is about 47 so they are coming more frequently than in the past. Anyway when I opened it and saw Don’s name I was stunned. I had just seen him in the cafeteria the previous week and we exchanged, “Hey Don.” “Hey John.” I wanted to ask him about his wife, but was in line. I thought I would catch him later. When I got done he was gone and I never saw him again.

I called his boss to find out what happened. Don had been battling high blood pressure lately. There were also a few times that his lips bled for no reason and he had blood in his urine. I was told that he and the family went out for pizza last weekend and the lips started bleeding then so he decided to make a doctor’s appointment on Monday. On Monday he found out he had acute leukemia. On Tuesday while getting dressed for work he mentioned he didn’t feel right. His wife got a neighbor who is a nurse. Within 6 minutes of her getting there Don was gray and unconscious. They called 911 and he ended up on a respirator in a hospital. He was from Maryland so he had parents and siblings back there. They all rushed out to Arizona to see him in the unconscious state in the hospital bed. He had a DNR order in a living will. They cut the power to the respirator and he passed away within 15 minutes.

Don got a lot out of life. After serving in the Navy he went to work at a nuclear plant in New York. He then got sick of the cold weather and moved to Arizona where he also worked at nuclear power plant. He hiked the Grand Canyon numerous times and ran a few marathons. He was a head mechanic for a race car team at one point. He wanted to make a difference in the world and decided to adopt a special needs child. It took a long time to get through that process, but they eventually did. His new son brought a lot of happiness to him and he said it changed his life. I now wonder who will be there to raise the young boy. He is around 7 years old now. Don’s wife is very ill and I doubt she will be here much longer.

During the memorial service yesterday one of his brothers said he had wanted to send Don a card letting him know that he loved him and he was his hero. He said he never did it and can’t now. He said not to take for granted that someone will always be there because this is a perfect example of that.

Don’s daughter mentioned that he recently told her that he would never want to go through what his wife has in the past few years with the chemo treatments and everything else related to battling cancer. Well, he didn’t. He found out he had leukemia and a stroke killed him the next day. He was kept alive on a respirator until his family got into town.

Life is not fair and we all know that. This hit me hard and will serve as wake-up call. I hope it will for others too.

RIP Don.
 

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Windrider (Stubborn)
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Thanks Vol.......

for posting this reminder of how much we all take for granted.

I think I'll go call my kids and let them know how much I love them.....Remembering this may be the best tribute to Don's death.

Len
 

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Misfit Toy
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Thanks for sharing your story vol - Don sounds like a good man. I'm sorry his life was so short, sometimes it doesn't seem fair.
 

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Resident Curmudgeon
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Sorry for your loss, Vol.:(
 

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here comes trouble
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I understand the wake up call feeling. A friend of mine was out for a walk last week, and on his way home he got hit by a car. The car fled the scene without calling 911. Someone else found his body and reported everything. It hasn't been determined yet if he would've survived had he received medical care right away. He was 23.

So I relate and hope you find peace and comfort in this difficult time. You never know when your time will be up.
 

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gazing from the shadows
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My sympathies on the loss of your friend. It is always difficult at times like this, and you had that "I'll catch up with him later" moment to boot.

Remember the good times and treasure those memories. Learn from his example as you can, and keep him alive through your actions.
 

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A Canadian in Sweden
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Hey John,
I'm really sorry about your friend Don. Life is not infinite, and we try to get the most out of it, but sometimes, we just don't make it in time. My kids are now sleeping (21.25 here), and as soon as I post, I'm going to go give them both a kiss and tell them I love them.
Your friend, Wayne
 

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Non Non Cyclist
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Sorry to hear that, vol

It sounds like Don was a super guy who was taken too soon. Hopefully the daughter is strong and has a good support system to help her through this and the illness of her stepmom.
 

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I'm not like anyone else
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HeyVol,

I'm truly sad for your loss. I'm older than your friend and even though life can sometimes be a tough experience, it's worth every moment. When my SO/Ex and I were still an entity, I woke every morning, kissed her while she was sleeping and went off to work. On my way to work one morning, I had a bad accident and I saw my entire life pass before me in millicseconds. Since then, I take nothing for granted. This thing, the life that we have, should never be taken for granted. It is a finite experience. On a positive note, he did not suffer which, IMHO, is a blessing!

Thanks for sharing your loss and my sympathies go to both you and to his family.

Cheers

EDB
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you all for the kind words. As a co-worker of Don's mentioned as he spoke at the funeral, Don was one of those people that you liked as soon as you met him. A down-to-earth guy. A lot like many here I bet.
 

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sorry, man. really sorry.
you have done a nice thing for your friend -- the ones that go live on through our memories, and you have bothered to capture those memories and share them. cool. one could see that you thought a lot of him, and that's about all that anyone really can want out of that situation, right? in the words of June Carter/Reese? To matter? Well, you have made it clear that your friend mattered.
 
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