I’m not wearing green today, March 17. Finding the celebratory spirit within me is a challenge right now. Between the continuing events in Japan, the breakdown of our own democracy, and the passing of Robert this morning, I can’t seem to get the spirit of the Irish excited enough to don the green or even hunt for a four-leaf clover.
“Who’s Robert?” you ask.
Robert’s a Facebook friend—a cyber friend. We didn’t grow up together, or go to the same schools, or even live in the same state. But through another friend, Robert and I “friended” each other. Breast cancer was our commonality along with a few other mutual friends and—what I call, wall-wit—snappy Facebook commentary.
Unlike my cancer history, when the doctors found cancer in Robert’s breasts, it was too late. Even with the subsequent surgery and chemo, the cancer, along with his weakened heart took him after 1 a.m. today.
By the time we friended each other, Robert faced his mortality. The chemo was too much for his heart. So I’ve watched Robert die on Facebook.
His 117 Facebook friends cheered him through his medical battle. Say what you will about this Facebook thing, I believe it infused Robert’s spirit, not to mention the volume of prayer and good wishes that the news about his declining health spurred on his behalf.
When chemo was no longer an option, Robert’s days were hazily numbered. Our mutual friend took action. She brought him out to the California coast in January. Robert posted on his page, “So excited about our trip this week, this week will be a “TRUE CELEBRATION OF LIFE WEEK” !!!!!!”
The photos on his Facebook page glimpse beach picnics and strolls, and a spa day for a pedicure and manicure.
Back in Texas by January 25, Robert’s Facebook posts celebrated his California and Las Vegas tours, his friendships, and how he was going back to California, especially after an early February cold spell and power outage. But there was medical business to tend to with “some things to take care of.” Friends posted Valentine’s wishes with Robert’s reply, “U have a great Valentines Day to, mine will be very special this year. Have lab work for Valentines so I get to see my cute nurses !!!” Three days later he wrote, ” Just got home from hunting the deep dark jungles of HEB. The hunt was great, I captured a dangerous & deadly box of Twinkies !!!! I guess it was a pretty good day, Cheeseburger & fries for lunch, DQ large Dip Cone for dinner & Twinkies for a late nite snack!!!!”
Shortly after his comfort food hunt, his body further broke down forcing him into hospitalization. Post after post wished him health, love and promised prayer on his behalf. On Feb. 24 Robert posted, “Got home about 1:30 today!!!!”
Commenting to a friend on Feb 26, he wrote “Thank you, just gotta keep going 1 day at a time.”
That was Robert’s final post. Word spread fast—weeks, maybe days—but Robert would not celebrate his 60th birthday this coming October.
His family and friends feted him on his page. They thanked him for his humor, his friendship, and wrote how much he was “truly loved.”
Thirteen hours ago a family member posted Robert’s final photo to his Facebook page.
Today, when I would normally dress my dining table in green with mischievous leprechauns perched about, I can’t pull myself into that mode. Instead I’m reading Robert’s page with posts like,
· “My buddy, you are soaring with the angels now. Rest in Peace. Till we meet again. XOXOXO forever and always.”
· “You are no longer in Pain Rest and Tell all ours Friends Hello!! We will meet again in Glory!!”
· “Rest peacefully sweet one, and tell Mary I love her,” and
· “The last thing you said to me was ‘You’re too Kool, girl’ but my friend, you’re the kool one. You have touched so many lives and all you had to do was be yourself. Thank you for letting me be your friend. I’m honored. “
I also fret over the suffering in Japan, and so many other daunted geographical destinations. Yet I find bright moments from the brave heroes at the crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima, and the rest who risk their lives in search and rescue for tsunami victims. And I find hope here at my desk while reading unselfish and heartfelt expressions of care and love on a friend’s Facebook page where I watched him die.