I am writing this in early July. When I’m finished composing my thoughts, I will hit the save button, but instead of publishing, this will be a saved draft. If you’re reading this, something tragic has happened in Kevin’s life.
Kevin’s a ham radio buddy, though neither of us are active ham radio operators anymore. I met him around 15 years ago, probably over-the-air first. He and another friend, John, offered to come over and help me erect a wire antenna over my house.
I didn’t know Kevin or John at the time. They offered to slingshot this wire between trees because… well, because they did nice things for people. I grew to better understand that as time went by.
Kevin is in his late 40s. He has four daughters, one still at home and in school, and a granddaughter. He and his wife are the kindest, sweetest people you would ever know.
This isn’t BS. I’m telling the truth – they’re so nice, I can’t think of anyone else even in the ballpark.
Kevin and Melanie are the most religious of my friends. They are observant Mormons. Kevin is an elder at his church¹. Their religious beliefs are reflected in how their daughters were brought up.
Kevin is my friend who can do everything. Whether it’s physical labor, electronics or computer related, Kevin always has the answer. He doesn’t look like a jock, and I’ve never heard him express any interest in sports (a continuing trend with my friends), but he kayaks and camps and is generally at home in the outdoors.
He would give you the shirt off his back. He would. End of story.
A few months ago Kevin had some back trouble. Who knows why these things happen. He had surgery. Back problems don’t go away all at once, as Kevin found. We really hadn’t discussed the surgery in a while and I assumed he was healing.
Last Thursday I spoke to Kevin, first on Instant Messenger and then on the phone. He was in the hospital.
His symptoms were back pain and nausea. When he went for medical treatment, he was told he needed to be in the hospital right then – they literally walked him over.
Doctors had discovered a blood clot in his pancreas. Blood clots are serious stuff, so he went to have it ‘fixed’.
After we got off the phone, I did what most people do in 2006, I went to the Internet to research his trouble.
Enter “pancreas blood clot” in Google and the first citation’s headline is: “ACS :: How Is Cancer of the Pancreas Diagnosed?”
It had never entered my mind. It had probably never entered Kevin’s either. He’s not even 50. He doesn’t smoke or drink. He’s easy going and non-stressful. He has lived the observant life and, religion aside, he’s still a wonderful person.
I went to visit Kevin on Thursday. He was in a pleasantly bright room with the door open and a curtain giving him a modicum of privacy. He had his laptop and cellphone at the ready. He was lying in bed, over the covers. There was a currently unused ‘port’ for intravenous fluid on his wrist.
If Kevin was sick, I couldn’t see it.
We talked about my Internet project. Kevin was my go-to guy when I ran into problems and he was designing the backend interface to the database.
I told him to forget it. But he said it would be a good way to pass the time.
We spoke again Friday. He was originally supposed to be leaving, but some tests had come back and he had pancreatic cancer. He said it like you might say you had peeling paint at home. He was relaxed… unphased.
From Wikipedia: Patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer typically have a poor prognosis because the cancer usually causes no symptoms early on, leading to metastatic disease at time of diagnosis. Median survival from diagnosis is around 3 to 6 months; 5-year survival is 5%
Kevin came home Saturday evening.
¹ – I apologize, because I don’t think it’s actually called a church and elder might be an inaccurate term. He is the lay person who runs the services.
Addendum – It is January 24, 2008. While installing new software I found this entry. I treaded lightly when I wrote this. Unfortunately, our worst fears were realized and Kevin died from the cancer on June 1, 2007.
He was everything I said he was and more. He really should still be alive. That would be the fair outcome.