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.
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.