In 2008, I lost my biological father, Richard Darby, to pancreatic cancer. He was 57. From afar, I watched his strong body wither away. I was living in Dallas at the time, he was in Florida. We had time to say the things we needed to say, to prepare for the end.
In April, my father-in-law, Lary Rasheta, passed away from metastatic prostate cancer. He was 80 years old. His journey of illness and loss felt familiar, though at closer range. In his final days, we all took turns holding Lary’s hands- his wife, his sons, his grandchildren, his nieces and nephews, cousins, friends, siblings. We all sat around him quiet and still, remembering the days before he was a dying man. It was a peaceful goodbye.
This weekend my stepfather, Steve Gray, died suddenly from a heart attack. He was home and he was alone. There was nobody there to hold his hand, to say goodbye, to provide comfort or offer solace. It was simply a hard-stop to his life. He was just 67. The pain that has resulted from this unexpected departure is different than before. It's sharp, raw and jagged. What my sister and I would give to have been there holding his hands.