I read the email again and one thing struck me with an incredible sadness. It was a statement that he made because he was dealing with what he thought at the time was Bell's Palsy. The statement was:
"but whatever, it reminds you that other people deal with much tougher issues than this."
What makes this statement so profound and filled with sadness is that he died three months later of a brain tumor. The tumor was obviously to blame for the paralysis in his face, but he was not aware until a few months later. When he was finally diagnosed with a stage IV tumor it was already too late and he died less than a month later.
I have every bit of confidence when I say had he known what he was actually facing when he sent the email he would have still made that statement. He was that type of person. Even in the midst of his hospital stay he still had his humility and his sense of humor.
I wonder sometimes why life is like that. He was one of the greatest people I have ever known. When you were feeling down he would always be there to pick you up. When you needed a laugh you could always talk to him and he would make you smile. I spent many weekends going to his house, spent a lot of time with him and his family.
The first time my wife met him he had us shooting bb guns in his backyard at 3 AM after a 30 hour drive from California, and I never did stop laughing.
At his funeral we were all asked to stand up and tell a story about our lives together and I had so many to tell although many of them were not family friendly, but they were all some of the best times I have had in my life.
It has been almost a year since all this happened. It was Christmas Eve when he was first admitted to the hospital which he would never end up leaving. A time when we were all getting ready with our families, wrapping presents, and waiting for the Jolly fellow to climb down our chimney, and he was being admitted after having his second seizure in two weeks.
I decided this Christmas I am going to send his son a gift. I want him to have a great Christmas, especially since this will be his first after losing his father. Of course I am sure that is what my friend was thinking about when he knew he was dying. He thought the world of his wife and son, and wanted to make sure they would be taken care of.
I dont know if I would have been as strong as he was, or still be able to smile and laugh, if I had to deal with what he went through, but I do remind myself...
"that other people deal with much tougher issues than this."