This has been a terrible weekend... yesterday, I received news that my friend and co-worker Barry, who has been battling bile-duct cancer for the past year, is on his last legs. His kidneys and liver have stopped functioning, and it's only a matter of days. He is receiving palliative care, and is facing the end in his typical fashion, with bravery. The real shock to me is that I honestly thought that Barry would beat this thing... if anybody could do it, it was him. He is a big, strong guy, brimming with with vitality. He is also educated, he has been a volunteer emergency medical technician for years, so he was familiar with the jargon and read up on the particular cancer he was facing.
I have spent much of the day contacting mutual friends in order to convey the bad news. The general reaction is shock- the very notion that we are losing such a vital, almost elemental, individual is particularly upsetting to people. Barry was a role model and a protector... just knowing that he had your back was reassuring. He was unafraid to confront management when he saw something he didn't like (we have one manager who can be a bit of a bully to her subordinates, and he was not one to abide by that). I always enjoyed working with him because we have similar values, similar attitudes. We would spend shift change waxing poetic about Wo Hop or swapping recipes or discussing science and technology or relating funny animal stories (he has two dogs he dotes on and has a knack for interacting wild animals). When his day job brought him to my neighborhood, we'd stop at the local fish and chips place and hang out for a while.
So now, I will continue texting our mutual friends (I have laryngitis and sound like Marge Simpson) and receiving the same, shocked response: "If anybody could beat this thing, I thought it would be Barry."