I had known Dr. E. was in hospice, but. I had kind of forgotten it in my concern over my friend D. (who is apparently pursuing aggressive treatment and I am still praying that a biopsy will turn up something benign and removable).
Dr. E. had served as a sort of "external" (to the department) on my promotions committee. He and his wife had been friends of mine from church. A few years back they moved to Stillwater to be closer to grandkids. I knew he was unwell; he had had lung cancer and other issues. And he was in hospice, and his wife reported that he was not doing well at all.
I mean, on the one hand, I know he's gone "home" and he's not in pain any more. But on the other hand, it just sucks mightily. I have lost so many people I cared about in this past eighteen months. And what makes it harder is not getting out much and not finding NEW people to hang out with; every loss makes me feel like "I have one fewer person in my life now"
He had a very dry sense of humor. He was known as a curmudgeon - in fact, I remember how hard J., his wife, laughed, when she learned that National Grouch Day actually fell on his birthday. And even with all that? He was a deeply kind person. Sometimes curmudgeons can be, and he was one. He reassured me back in 2016 when I was so worried about the budget failures at the university - that he had been here in the 1980s when it was even worse, and everything was eventually fine. And he was right, things got better.
(I just had to stop for a few minutes there. And just stare tearfully at the monitor and say "fudge fudge fudge fudge" over and over again [and yes, I DID say "fudge"])
At least he was able to be at home. I guess there had been some discussion with J. whether he wanted to go to a hospital and he decided against that, decided against any heroic measures. Which, I'm coming to see the wisdom of that in cases where you might get only a tiny bit more life and that at the cost of a lot of fight and a lot of pain. Oh, I could see fighting if there were some near thing you wanted to be there for - but at this point his grandkids were all born, his kids finished with their degrees (one is even retired now).
But still. Ten more days in 2020 and even though I know time is a human construct imposed over the different rhythm of real life (or over God's kairos), I will still be mightily glad to see the end of this year. Though I know 2021 will not start much better. At least 2020 will be over.