That’s it. Two deaths in two days. No, they were not people that were immediate family, they were not people that were in my everyday life. However, they were people that had a profound effect on me.
The first was a childhood and family friend who died yesterday from a glioblastoma. It had gone into remission then came back with a vengeance. He left behind a wife, daughter, sister and mother. His father died less than two years ago. We still spend Christmas with his mom (and had with is dad until his passing) every year. A few weeks before the brain cancer came back, I had had a dream that he was actually dead and called my mom to ask if he was ok. During Memorial Day, his mothers home was flooded with 3′ of water while she was visiting him. His sister flew back to Atlanta three days before he died, thinking she would be back in a few days. Even though he was young, we all knew he would succumb to the illness. I was just in denial the entire time, and when I heard the news yesterday, I was just overwhelmed and really had now words for his sister. What do you say?
The second we lost today. If you have ever lived in Houston, have ever been involved in the medical community, are a JFK assassination buff or ever watched TV in the southeast region in the 80’s, you probably have heard of Dr. James “Red” Duke. He is a legend in the Texas medical community. He was instrumental in advancing trauma care at Memorial Hermann Hospital and launching the Life Flight program in the 70’s, now which serves one of the largest populations and areas in the country. He has served in the armed forces, trained countless doctors, nurses and medical students. I only had the opportunity to work with him for a short time compared to his lengthy career. He would come up to our floor, with his cup of coffee and pull a chart to write his notes and orders on a patient. He would never know your name, but he always greeted you like you were family, “Hey darlin'” or “Mornin’ sweetie”. Plus the stories. I loved listening to his stories. He lived at the hospital, he had an apartment in the building and his dog, Jake, stayed with him. He also had acreage and a home outside the city for when he wasn’t working, but I don’t know when that was! I would see Dr. Duke in the basement hallway, taking Jake out for a walk and would always stop to say hi and pet Jake. That was my inspiration for the piece of pottery, which I was able to give to him in July. He did really enjoy it, he thought it was very intricate and asked me if I had ever considered being a surgeon! He looked at it for quite some time, looking at all the detail. I was happy that he was able to enjoy it for a little while at least. Just like Stephen, I had been at work on Sunday night and Monday night, and had considered stopping by his room on Monday morning or Tuesday morning, something was nagging me in my gut and I just thought, it’s too early, I’d come back in the afternoon on my day off.
I guess I did have a few words, although they probably didn’t make too much sense. I guess I just need to start trusting my gut a bit more and appreciate what I have in front of me.