Several months ago, JB’s uncle Jack was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Jack endured the radiation and chemotherapy treatments, losing his hair and his body weight along the way. He had a heart attack, and a stint was installed. He battled a horrible hospital-acquired infection. A tough sonofabitch by any standard, Jack told JB life kept trying to knock him down, but he was by god still standing.

We all hoped he was out of the woods, but last Monday Jack’s wife dragged him—as he was famously reluctant to complain—to the emergency room with debilitating pain in his back. A scan revealed that the cancer had spread to his bones. A grim diagnosis was given, 1-3 months.

By Thursday he was gone. I don’t even know how it happened so fast. I suppose there is some cold comfort in the fact that he didn’t continue to suffer. I don’t know if there is any comfort to death, though.

JB talked to him right before he died; a family member held the phone to Jack’s ear and JB spoke blindly into Jack’s labored breathing and those words are between the two of them but I believe Jack heard him. I believe that even as he slipped away, he knew he was surrounded by love.

Maybe there is comfort to that, if nothing else.

Jack has always been a big part of my husband’s life and it feels like a critical branch has been torn from the family tree. I keep wishing I could say something, the right thing, that would help ease the loss, but this is what happens when someone is loved so dearly: they are missed.

He was a good man, and he is missed.

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96 Responses to “1937-2011”

  1. Katie S. on May 31st, 2011 12:32 pm

    I’m sorry for your whole family’s loss. He sounds like a wonderful man.

  2. Amy M. on May 31st, 2011 12:36 pm

    Sorry for your family’s loss. Sending prayers and healing vibes… F cancer!

  3. Mel on May 31st, 2011 12:40 pm

    I’ve learned at times like these, there are no words only your presence to comfort the grieving. To lend a shoulder, a Kleenex, etc. is the most & best anyone can do. My thoughts & prayers are with you, your husband and your family.

  4. Veronica on May 31st, 2011 12:43 pm

    good god i just misted up on that one. for some reason you just made me feel the sheer awesomeness of JB’s uncle.

  5. M.A. on May 31st, 2011 12:47 pm

    L: my condolences to you & JB. As a very dear friend said to me recently “Those we love die only if we forget them.” Keep Uncle Jack alive in your hearts and stories to Riley and Dylan — tales of the High Country — where he loved to be.

  6. Eric's Mommy on May 31st, 2011 12:48 pm

    Rest in peace Uncle Jack.

  7. telegirl on May 31st, 2011 12:49 pm

    I’m so sorry, Linda. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  8. Jas on May 31st, 2011 12:55 pm

    I’m very sorry to hear of your family’s loss. Cancer…what a dick it is.

  9. Kizz on May 31st, 2011 1:15 pm

    For me the comfort comes when someone as forthright as Jack makes their own decision to go. From the way you tell the story it seems clear that he went on his own terms and for that I’m grateful.
    So sorry for your family’s loss.

  10. Lawyerish on May 31st, 2011 1:40 pm

    I’m so sorry, for all of you.

  11. Darci on May 31st, 2011 1:41 pm

    I’m so, so sorry. I lost my father to esophageal cancer in 2006. He lasted 11 weeks after diagnosis. It’s a brutal, horrible, beast of a disease and my heart breaks for anyone that has to face it. Sending love to you and your family.

  12. Melissa on May 31st, 2011 1:42 pm

    So sorry for your loss. I pray for you and your family.

  13. Sarah M on May 31st, 2011 1:42 pm

    My father lost his battle to the same type of cancer almost 4 years ago. His battle was also brief. It is an awful cancer, as are they all, I suppose. I am SO sorry to hear about your uncle. Rest in peace to Jack and I’ll be thinking about you and your family.

  14. Peggasus on May 31st, 2011 1:45 pm

    I was just talking about this with a friend (whose own mother is not at all well) this morning: that I am not really sad that my own father went so suddenly (nine years ago), because I have seen so many of my parents’ friends become incapacitated, unable to speak or walk, just…lingering, since then. My Dad would have hated that, it seems that Jack would have, too.

    There is huge comfort in that, grace, even.

  15. Carmen on May 31st, 2011 1:52 pm

    I’m very sorry for your family’s loss. This is almost identical to the story of my favourite uncle, Orville. He also died of esophageal cancer in 2001. He missed my wedding because he was too sick from chemo; he tried to make it but just couldn’t. He died 2 days before my PhD defense so I couldn’t even make it home for the funeral. It is terribly sad to lose someone so important and I can’t really say anything except I am so sorry. I think of my uncle all the time and have nothing but happy memories and I know that the same will be true for JB and for you when you think of Uncle Jack.

  16. H on May 31st, 2011 2:07 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. He sounds like a wonderful man.

  17. Erika on May 31st, 2011 2:10 pm

    JB, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry that all of you have to go through this painful experience. For me, the good thing is he was a wonderful Uncle and person, it seems. After the initial pain of the loss abates, you all will have the best memories to share for the rest of your lives.

  18. Katherine on May 31st, 2011 2:23 pm

    First, my condolences to all of you for the loss of someone so important to you. It’s wonderful that the boys got to meet and know him a little while he was with you.

    But secondly I’m struck by the power of your blog Linda. You’ve built a community of people who are strangers to you but in a way very much a part of your life. One result of your creation is the fact that Jack has many, many people thinking about him and wishing him peace in the life beyond what he knew on earth. I think that’s just wonderful.

  19. Cara on May 31st, 2011 2:37 pm

    My mother once told me that the only real thing you can do for someone who is grieving is allow them to grieve, to have the time, as much time as they need, without being rushed. Its clear from your words you are giving JB that gift, and that’s amazing. I hope you are giving it to yourself, as you clearly loved him, too. We are aching for you today.

  20. Aunt Linda on May 31st, 2011 2:52 pm

    Your grandmother and your Uncle Roger both battled horrific hospital-induced infections, as well. Viogard can’t come along any too soon. You know it’s a little less sunny here in Dog Patch since we first heard your news. So sorry.

  21. Trina on May 31st, 2011 3:41 pm

    It really sucks when we lose the good ones. My heart hurts for JB and your family. I will be sending positive thoughts. So very sorry for your loss.

  22. Kate on May 31st, 2011 3:44 pm

    Oh Linda…and JB…I’m so sorry. It’s obviously a huge loss to your family – your words make that abundantly clear. I hope that the pain and sorrow of losing him can give way quickly to all the wonderful memories you have of him. Although, I know from experience, that you never truly are rid of the sadness of losing someone so special.

    Virtual hugs to you from up north.

  23. Farrell on May 31st, 2011 3:55 pm

    I’m so sorry. For you, for your husband, for your boys. Sometimes it is better just to say, “I’m so sorry you’re hurting” than to try to fill the air with cliches. beautiful post.

  24. Josefina on May 31st, 2011 4:16 pm

    Man, that last photo with the note really got me.

    I’m really sorry, Linda.

  25. Angella on May 31st, 2011 4:31 pm

    I’m so, so sorry. Hugs from us to you.

  26. sooboo on May 31st, 2011 4:47 pm

    I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. My FIL passed away from the same cancer and although he beat it the first time, when it came back, he was gone in a week. We too tried to find comfort from that, but you are right, it’s a hollow comfort. Such sweet pictures. Sending light your way….

  27. amanda on May 31st, 2011 5:08 pm

    So sorry to hear.

  28. Anneli Barnes on May 31st, 2011 6:22 pm

    Katherine said it for all of us…..

  29. Kelly on May 31st, 2011 6:53 pm

    So very sorry to hear. Sounds like he leaves a big hole in the family for sure. Hope there are lots of times for the family to be together and share stories about him…sounds like there would be lots of wonderful ones with a guy like that.

  30. Mary on May 31st, 2011 6:56 pm

    So sorry to hear of your family’s loss. (Looks like JB inherited Uncle Jack’s smile from the looks of that wedding photo. Very sweet.)

  31. Jessica on May 31st, 2011 7:32 pm

    I’m so sorry. I love the picture of Uncle Jack with the boys in the boat.

  32. Donna on May 31st, 2011 7:54 pm

    What Katherine said. Here I am crying big tears for someone I never knew, but he is all of our family, our uncles, brothers, sons, fathers, any one of whom may have died from cancer. Family, as are you and yours. Sorry doesn’t cover it.
    Please use this post as a eulogy, you wrote about him wonderfully.

  33. Emily on May 31st, 2011 9:57 pm

    Gosh you guys. So, so sorry. We had no idea. Our hearts are with you.

  34. squandra on May 31st, 2011 10:34 pm

    He seems like a wonderful man.

    So glad you all had each other when you did, and so sorry for your loss.

  35. Kelly on May 31st, 2011 11:39 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss…

  36. Elle on June 1st, 2011 3:58 am

    I am so sorry for your family’s loss. My uncle was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last June had surgery, chemo and when we though things were getting better he had a mini stroke, a full blown store and another full stroke while in the hospital plus brain surgery. He is in constant pain, his head hurts all the time, he has no feeling in his left side. I keep thinking what could be worse? Him continuing like this in pain or going in peace.
    My thoughts and prayers are your your family.

  37. Becky on June 1st, 2011 5:09 am

    I had an Uncle Jack who died this year as well, he was awesome. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  38. Life of a Doctor's Wife on June 1st, 2011 5:17 am

    He sounds like a wonderful presence in your life, and I’m so sorry for your loss.

  39. Maggie on June 1st, 2011 5:52 am

    SO very sorry for your family’s loss.

  40. Amy N on June 1st, 2011 7:07 am

    I’m so sorry. I think he just didn’t want to fight anymore. My dad’s was a similar story. The better the man, the more he will be missed. All you can do is be there….and you and JB are good at doing that for eachother!

  41. Carrie (in MN) on June 1st, 2011 7:23 am

    My husband lost his mother last year and I know that feeling of not being sure exactly what to say and do to support your partner in their loss. I grieved (she was a wonderful woman), but of course she was his mother and his grief was greater. And of course everyone grieves differently and, whether it’s a generalization or just my man, his grief was quieter and more internalized than mine would be. I don’t know if I did the right thing, but I just followed his lead and listened when he wanted to talk and didn’t ask when he didn’t talk.

    I saw your tweet worrying about the boys at the funeral – maybe it has already occured, but I wanted to tell you that there were five young boys at my mother-in-law’s funeral and they saved us. They weren’t cutting up, but they were curious and honest about their curiosity and watching them pulled us all through.

    I’m so sorry for your and JB’s loss. Jack sounds like a good one.

  42. dorrie on June 1st, 2011 8:11 am

    So sorry for your family’s loss. It is hard to find meaning in these things.

  43. Kristen on June 1st, 2011 8:18 am

    I’m sorry for your loss, and I’m sending good thoughts that you’ll find the words you need, when you need them, to help you comfort JB, your kids, and the rest of your family.

  44. Sara on June 1st, 2011 8:20 am

    I’m so sorry. My thoughts are with you.

  45. Halyn on June 1st, 2011 8:30 am

    I’m so sorry.

  46. MRW on June 1st, 2011 8:42 am

    Ah crap, I’m terrible at knowing what to say to people when someone they love has died. I’m so sorry and am thinking about you and your family.

  47. Karen on June 1st, 2011 9:13 am

    Yes I hope there is some comfort there…. if we die surrounded by love, I would say that’s a life well lived. Sounds like he will be remembered surrounded by love too. Grace and peace to you.

  48. Em on June 1st, 2011 10:22 am

    So sorry for your loss.

  49. Shannon C. on June 1st, 2011 10:43 am

    I’m sorry to hear this, Linda and JB. I work in hospice and I can tell you for certain that hearing is the very last thing to go when someone is dying. So yes, he heard every word you said, JB.

  50. Rachel on June 1st, 2011 11:04 am

    My deepest condolences to you and your family. It is different for everyone, but I always find the best comfort is in telling your stories about the deceased. Tears of laughter are the best healing I know.

  51. Melanie on June 1st, 2011 11:25 am

    He was a handsome guy. I’m so sorry for the loss of a great family member. My heart goes out to your family.

  52. Christine on June 1st, 2011 11:52 am

    I’m so very sorry for your family’s loss. He seems like an amazing person. (And I love the picture of him with Riley and I’m guessing Riley’s cousin…adorable.)


  53. Mel on June 1st, 2011 12:41 pm

    I am so sorry to hear of your family’s loss. My sincere condolences to you all.

  54. adequatemom on June 1st, 2011 2:07 pm

    So sorry to hear this sad news, Linda. You and your family will be in my thoughts.

  55. Eliza on June 1st, 2011 2:36 pm

    Uncle Jack sounds awesome. I’m sorry.

  56. Shelly on June 1st, 2011 3:07 pm

    I’m so sorry to you and JB. I got all teary eyed as well. He did seem pretty cool! :) I’m sure you will always have great memories of him.

  57. Donna on June 1st, 2011 3:19 pm

    Aw, honey, I’m so sorry. Sometimes I don’t think there are EVER the right words.

  58. Mommy Boots on June 1st, 2011 5:49 pm

    I’m sorry for your loss. You & your family will be in my thoughts.

  59. Redbecca on June 2nd, 2011 7:41 am

    I’m so sorry, Linda. That sucks. Damn cancer.

  60. Cheri on June 2nd, 2011 8:07 am

    Hey Linda… I’m so sorry for your family’s loss.

  61. All Adither on June 2nd, 2011 2:12 pm

    Aw, fuck. I’m sorry. Beautiful bloggy eulogy you’ve written.

  62. Simon on June 2nd, 2011 5:33 pm

    Sorry to hear about this. That shit sucks. Best wishes to you and to the rest of the family as well.

  63. Shawna on June 2nd, 2011 9:32 pm

    So sorry to hear your sad news. Hope you hang in there.

  64. Sonia on June 2nd, 2011 10:49 pm

    I’m so sorry for your family’s loss Linda.

  65. clover on June 3rd, 2011 1:07 am

    I’m so sorry. My mom died 06/16/08 in Kirkland, only 3.5 months after I had my daughter (just days younger than your Dylan). The best thing my husband could do was listen. There was nothing for him, or anyone, to say. Be there for JB. That is the best gift you could give to him.

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