In what can only be described as the perfect reaction to a terrible situation, Derek's family swept into town en masse and quickly took charge of his situation. After two years of taking care of him through some very terrible health crises — most recently the realization that he had an aggressive form of lymphoma — I couldn't have hoped for a better response.
I've spent the last two weeks getting them up to date on every aspect of his life to date — from health to finances and everything in between. Like me, his family saw how well he responded to their presence, so he readily agreed that moving back to his hometown to be with his family was the best option.
So last Thursday he was flown out of Dallas and transferred to a hospital near his family in New York state (I'm intentionally being coy with the details so as not to parade Derek's private information around the world wide web).
I and my friends helped get his things packed and shipped to New York, worked closely with the family to bring them up to speed on his diagnoses and prognoses, assist with their assimilation of his financial status, and prepare and execute all of the appropriate paperwork to grant them access to his life — from medical information and doctors to finances.
Only a few days after his departure, it amazes me how much I miss him. The apartment seems so very empty now, albeit part of that is the size of the place. One man and four cats simply can't make a three bedroom, 1200-square foot apartment feel completely occupied.
Yet I am left with a hole in my life, a hole which had been filled with the very overwhelming activities related to caring for a terminally ill person. But that's not all.
Derek and I are kindred spirits. We shared a home for many years as close friends, enjoying intelligent conversation, similar interests in food and entertainment, enjoying mutual friends, and the list goes on.
It's important to understand that I've practically lived alone for the last year-and-a-half. For all but two months of that time Derek was in the hospital. But that failed to prepare me for his departure.
Even while he was in the hospital, there was always the very real possibility that he would be returning home if his health warranted such a move (equaled by the very real possibility that he would never leave the hospital alive). Now that he's gone, being alone is a very real thing, not just a temporary state of being.
Yet my apprehension at being a lone bachelor again (something I've not experienced in 13 years) is balanced by my happiness that Derek is in a place where he can be happier and better cared for. It's not that he wasn't happy here or that his care was sub par, but I am only one man who was trying to be all things for someone who was no longer able to care for himself.
With his family, on the other hand, he has more than two dozen people who love him and want to help take care of him. As I explained to them before they left to take him home, the sacrifices I made to take care of him were massive and overwhelming, but they don't have to worry about that because, with such a large family, if each person sacrifices only a little it will more than adequately cover everything.
Before they left we saw a very real improvement in Derek's situation. I believe it was in response to his family's roborant presence. They were with him all day every day, something I and my friends couldn't offer or provide.
I am now in the process of getting my life together so I can move on, looking for a new place to live temporarily while Rick and I plan something more permanent (more on that at a later time). The sooner I get out of this apartment the better, as it's a reminder of the life that was but is no more.
So, as I prepare to step out in a new direction with my own life, Derek is doing likewise under the care of his very loving family.
I wish you luck, my friend, and I hope the environment you now find yourself in is conducive to continued improvement in your health. Don't lose touch, don't forget your friends in Texas, and remember that we love you.
Get well soon.