February 3, 2008

Saying Goodbye

It's been an emotional roller coaster this week, culminating in the memorial service for my college friend who died of acute myelogenous leukemia. It's an immensely tragic loss, as this man was the personification of gentleness and devotion.

All I can do now is admire his courageous wife, send my brightest wishes to his two children, and hope that someday there will be better treatments and care options for this disease.

One of the bright spots of the service was the attention paid to the blog my friend started when he was diagnosed. As several people noted in their tributes, putting his story online was a powerful force in the last ten months of my friend's life. It provided both an outlet for his doubts, fears, and frustrations and a way to connect with people when his exposure to the outside world had to be limited.

Leukemia—a blood cancer that starts in the marrow—made him weak, but the chemotherapy used to kill the cancerous cells made his immune system even weaker. Some days he couldn't even receive flowers or cards for fear of exposure to outside contaminants. Through his blog, he was able to communicate and touch the lives of people across the country.

I was amazed at how my friend became an inspiration, even to people he had never met in person. I can only hope the smiles and tenderness he gave readers through his stories were equally matched for him by the encouragement and support sent by his 45,678 (and counting) visitors.

In loving memory.

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