The Worst Thing Imaginable

Ron in his beloved "man cave" (garage) last fall

I intend to get back to writing about more positive things in my next post, but I hope you’ll indulge me one more time as I need to write about something sad again. When I wrote about my brother-in-law’s struggle with brain cancer a few weeks ago, we thought we still had a long fight ahead of us. Sadly though, Ron lost his fight just ten days later, on September 19. It came as an immense and crushing shock to all of us.

A few days after my last post I drove down to Columbus to offer support to my sister as she sat in his hospital room. He had suffered a worse-than-usual seizure and had been in the hospital for three days, awake but unable to speak or move his arms and legs. I sat with them and their daughters and other family members as we tried to coax Ron to speak even a few words each day. He seemed to be getting better for a few days, then the complications started, and before we knew it things had started going backwards. I had to come back home on the 15th, and on Sunday night the 18th around 9 pm I got a frantic call from my sister saying that he’d suffered a massive stroke and was back in the ICU. We didn’t know it right then, but he was already gone at that point. Our extended family raced to Columbus from all directions to gather at his bedside, and we spent the night sleeping on chairs in the waiting room until they could do tests to confirm the lack of any brain activity in the morning. It was the saddest day of my entire life, as I had to watch my sweet sister and her daughters lose the center of their lives.

My sister and the love of her life

I’ve shared many special moments with my sister and her family over the years, but I will never forget what I was privileged to be a part of in the days following Ron’s death. Deb and her two daughters, Amber and Amy, spent the next two days pouring their love into preparations for his funeral. They stayed up late at night gathering photos and videos for the funeral home. They enlisted Ron’s brother and Amber’s husband to detail Ron’s prized 1978 Trans Am so it could be driven behind his hearse. To fully understand the meaning of this you have to know that Ron built a specially-sealed room in his garage just to house this car. It was rarely taken out on the road, but when it was unleashed on the back roads of Guernsey County, it was just awesome.

The visiting hours on Thursday were set from 3-8 pm, long by usual funeral standards. But it was a good thing they had that much time, because by the end of the day there were over 450 signatures in the visitor book. Deb had stood beside Ron’s casket for five and a half hours greeting friends and family who lined up out the door, never once sitting down or taking a bathroom break. I still can’t fathom how she managed to do that.

Friday morning we woke to a cold and rainy day, which seemed appropriate for a funeral. There were many more moments for sadness that day, but I was never prouder of my little sister and her daughters for how they honored Ron. And it was so gratifying to see how much their family is loved by their community, and comforting to know that they have so many people nearby to help them as they begin to resume their lives. Ron’s absence has left a hole in our hearts that will never heal, but I’m so proud to have been his “sister” for 27 years. I miss you, Ron.

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9 Responses to The Worst Thing Imaginable

  1. Amber says:

    I read this again 5 years later and a hold back the tears. This is beautifully said đŸ’•

  2. Pingback: Sunset Therapy, Just When I Needed It | Nature is My Therapy

  3. I am so, so sorry. Please don’t think you have to write about positive things. I lost my dad this summer and actually took a couple weeks off from blogging. My condolences to you and your family.

    • Kim says:

      Thank you, Kristie. It really helps me when I can write about this kind of stuff. I saw the tribute you wrote for your dad — it’s clear he was loved very much.

  4. Beautifully written tribute to your brother-in-law. I’ll be thinking of you.

    Another acquaintance lost his brother this same way a few years ago. The family had been reassured by the doctor that he could expect a full recovery, but it didn’t happen, making the shock doubly hard. Even so, some good came of it. My acquaintance had been the black sheep of the family, in and out of trouble for most of his life, while his brother had been everybody’s hero. When his brother passed away, my friend reevaluated his life, stepped up to the plate and began fathering his nephews in his brother’s place. Totally turned himself around and became a pillar of his family. Made me a believer, again, in silver linings.

    Your family sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Kim says:

      Thanks for your story, Randy. I’m finding that Ron’s death has affected me greatly too. He was four months younger than me, so our age closeness really brought home the fact that nobody is guaranteed to live into their 70s or 80s, including me. It can all be taken away in an instant, much sooner than you expect. I’ve always tried to be a kind person, but I notice that I’m more likely to be extra kind to strangers now too, knowing that each person I come into contact with is facing their own struggles and fears. Funny how we take life for granted until death reminds us how precious it all is.

  5. Thank you for sharing. I am reminded how very precious life is. Thank you.

  6. Know how hard it is to get through something like this. It is comforting that so many people came to show their love and support for Debbie and her family. Wishing your family peace….

  7. Sharon says:

    A very lovely tribute to Ron and his family.

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