For my dear friend, Susie, who died Wednesday and for her husband, Dewitt. It was quite a shock. After a short battle with pneumonia, organ failures, and life support she was taken home. She was only 52 years old. I'm writing this partially to help with my grieving, but also for my dear friend, Dewitt and the families. Though faith is strong and our minds are clear about our belief in the afterlife, the heart still grieves.
Knowing Susie and Dewitt, loving and sharing with them for 25 years, makes her passing very difficult. This at the end of the year and during the holidays is tough. This has been one hell of a year. Not just for me, but for many of you, too.
We all struggle to know when to talk about "things", how much to share, whether we are a burden to others while trying to carry on our lives. After all, the living must go on living.
Pain, loneliness, memories, love, all collide whether we are alone or surrounded by others. We lean on our faith, our beliefs, those things that seem constant and safe, and our God.
Reviewing this year is tough. I lost my best friend, my father, in February. Shortly after, my aunt Eleanor, my father's sister, passed on. My sister had a tumor removed from her colon the size of a tangerine, and has her last chemo treatment on December 26th! My good friend Father Pedro's father passed away. I could go on and on. There have been so many stories of tragedy, illness and death from family, friends, and patients. So many of you have been suffering. This has been a year like no other.
While at the medical center on Monday night to say goodbye to Susie, I reflected on the enormity of the medical center. Home to so many hospitals and well over 5,000 employees. It's a city unto itself. There are so many people who are suffering, dying and have severe health problems. And this is just one center! Everyone of us has a story of a friend or family member. This is part of our human experience. It is something in a sad and tragic way that binds us. Knowing that others may have a similar or worse circumstance doesn't make our suffering and pain any less. Nor does it minimize our problem by comparison. You begin to wonder, or at least I do, how is everyone coping?
In the end, though, I believe that all of this makes me stronger as it does you. I am grateful for all that I have and for everyone in my life. I cherish all the good moments and I'm trying to see the hope, light, and love in all.
All our lives are so very busy. It is hard to slow down and enjoy the little things, the moments we have with each other. Life, (I am constantly being reminded of), is too short not to live it to the fullest, too short for tolerances and strife. And too short not to be in harmony with God.
I have great memories to hold onto about Susie. She enjoyed hosting a yearly Christmas party at their home that was always wonderful.
Many years ago, Susie and Dewitt opened up their home for a beautiful wedding party for Mary and I. And the last wonderful memory was just a short few months ago when we were finally able to arrange our schedules and have a great dinner together at a local restaurant. These are the moments that are important and what I know I need to create more of. And I pray you do too.
So as this year ends, I pray for all of you and your families-for health, happiness, peace, prosperity and especially for love. And I ask for your prayers in return.
Dr. Rick Barrett