This has been a terrible week.
I have been terribly saddened and my heart has been breaking this past week for family members, and dear friends that I consider family.
First, I received word about a week ago that my young cousin Jennifer, who has been battling breast cancer for 6 years, was brought into hospice care. We knew it was inevitable, but it is a reality that we hoped we'd never face. While she is my cousin and I love her dearly, I can only imagine what her immediate family is going through. A husband, two young girls, two older brothers, a dad, and a mom with whom her relationship has always been as tight as a mother/daughter relationship could possibly be. She has been by Jenn's side more often than not during this long battle. Now she has to say goodbye to her baby. How can any parent be expected to do that?
As if that news wasn't bad enough, three days later I found out that my friend Ed Cook had two strokes. After a series of tests it turned out that he had end stage cancer. Within days he was put in hospice care and he passed away very early Tuesday morning. He would have turned 62 this Saturday. I still can't believe how fast that happened. I can't believe he's gone. I'm really gonna miss the big lug. He was a big softy with a gruff exterior (think real life Ralph Kramden). He loved to act curmudgeonly around his family, but anyone that knew him knew that it was a facade. I spent a lot of years being very close to the Cook family, to the point where I did and still do consider them family. He used to always say that one day he was just going to disappear where no one would find him. For the twenty years I knew him he was saying that. He wasn't going anywhere. His family needed him, and he needed them. He loved Donna, his wife of 38 years, and while he might form a look of mock-disgust on his face to anyone who made that claim, he never denied it. I always said they were made for each other.
He used to jokingly say that he hated kids (usually when they were being annoying and loud), but there was no hiding that he truly loved his. On Father's Day on facebook he would post pictures of his kids as his "pride and joy" and the reason he celebrates the day.
He and his daughter Kara tended to lock horns, mainly because she is, as Donna would say, "picked right out of his ass," but I know from conversations we've had that he loved her and was proud of the woman she has become.
He had a good relationship with his son Sean. From my perspective, Sean idolized his father, and from little league, to drumming, to bowling, to learning to cook, to growing into a responsible man and then becoming a father, Ed was indeed extremely proud of Sean.
Then Olivia, his granddaughter, came along, and it was over, Johnny. The curmudgeon that was going to go out for the proverbial pack of cigarettes, the guy who "hates" kids, all gone. His profile picture, his background picture...all about Olivia. I saw him several months ago in Shop Rite of Rockaway (last time I saw him, in fact), and he was all about Olivia, and how he was looking forward to moving out to Spokane and having his family all together again. I'm actually kind of glad that the last time I saw him he had a positive outlook on life. Though in a way it makes this turn of events all the more sad.
He always lived up to his last name. That is to say that he was a damn good cook (and he'd be the first to tell you that). I'll always think of him when I make chili, which he inspired me to learn to do.
He was a good cook and a good Cook. I really am going to miss him. It truly is a dark day.
Rest in peace, my friend.
To all my family and friends involved in these two sorrowful events, I am so sorry you all have to go through this. My heart is breaking and my thoughts and love go out to all of you.