Lisa - I was sitting here singing along with Nilla as I was listening. I would sing in the Verandah Grille on the Lizzie. The Verandah Grille was an extra charge dining venue for dinner aft on Sun Deck, but at 12:30am each night it turned into the late-night night club after the Main Lounge and/or Ballroom closed. We never dined there, but would go when the night club opened, and usually stayed until dawn. If I can find photos, I'll scan them and post them, but definitely for another time.
Those of us in the Cancer Kids Club (that what Hucc called us) have lost a true friend and valiant warrior in this fight against the enemy. But we can all benefit from his legacy of faith, love and compassion and strive to carry on his values.
Share your story, others will find strength in it. Few people are comfortable sharing the most intimate details of their struggles in this ugly battle against cancer. Only by sharing your own experience will others know that they are not alone in their own reactions and feelings. When one comrade has a setback, the whole army suffers. When one experiences a victory ~ no matter how small, we all rejoice. We learn and gain strength from one another.
Faith is the glue that keeps us together. Hucc was invited to speak before his congregation one Sunday about his own battle with cancer. He spoke boldly about the need for faith to see us through the struggle. He constantly reminded me to trust in the Lord for my comfort, strength and peace.
Humor is a reflection of the heart. If you can find humor and something positive in all aspects of life then the battle will be more bearable. Hucc and I even joked around about one of his biopsies. He made the comment that when they drilled a hole in his skull they found nothing! Of course he meant no signs of the tumor, but we often referred to him as Ã¢â‚¬Ëœempty headedÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ after that. LOL Remember you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to be strong or brave to remain joyful. Joy is a choice!!!
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not his clothes, but his heart that makes a man. Hucc used this as his signature shortly after he took part in a fashion show in his church. He was such a good sport that he laughed that one of the outfits that he was assigned to wear was this outlandish pair of plaid shorts with some funky print shirt. He really chuckled when he confessed that the whole world would see how white his legs were! LOL
When you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t sleep find a chat buddy. We had many interesting chat sessions in the middle of the night while we were both experiencing insomnia. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s when we did extensive Google searches about our cancer. One topic that we explored in great detail is how to combat this Ã¢â‚¬ËœinconvenienceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ of being sleep deprived. Hucc found that listening to his favorite music on an IPod worked best for him, along with forgoing his long afternoon naps. When we explore options with others experiencing the same frustrations we often find creative solutions.
Never be afraid to experiment! Hucc was on an experimental treatment plan which most likely added precious time to his life by slowing the growth of his brain tumor. This wise man knew that we must fight our best fight ever and take extreme chances to gain momentum against the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœinsidious invaderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. He was brave enough to trust his medical team. Even though the chemo cycles often caused horrible side effects, the respite between sessions afforded him a much better quality of life.
Sometimes cyber friends can be closer than family. We have both learned to reach through cyberspace for friendship and emotional support. These new friends, who are often battling the same monsters, can turn out to be a safe haven for us to voice our frustrations during our emotional storms so we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take it out on our loved ones. Be wise in choosing who you share your phone number with, but once you have established trust, GO FOR IT. Some of my most cherished phone calls during my most difficult times have been from Hucc. He once said Ã¢â‚¬Å“itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s so hard for our families to know the pain and turmoil we are going through, they just canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t imagine because they havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t experienced anything like thisÃ¢â‚¬Â.
The adult in you can nurture others; the child in you wants to play. We all cherished HuccÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s insights, his words of encouragement, as well as his corny jokes and silly humor. Remember, we can be Ã¢â‚¬Ëœchild likeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ without being childish. Simple is not always easy, but the results of thinking as a child are so very rewarding. Reading his words often reminded me when I needed an attitude adjustment. Remember when he felt like he had been thrown overboard when the Aft Deck was created? Well it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t long till he jumped back onboard and enjoyed the company of his dear comrades once again. He realized that change was inevitable and accepted this. One thing that I admired most about Hucc was his ability to forgive and not take things personally.
Look beyond someoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lifestyle and into their heart to find your connections. If we let our differences decide who we will or wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be friends with then we would miss out on many wonderful opportunities to enrich our own lives. It does not matter whether they are rich or poor, educated or not, or live on the East or West coast. What matters is what we have in common. First Christopher and I shared our love of cruising, then our struggles with cancer, and finally how our faith helps us to deal with our challenges and gives us renewed hope to face each and every day. What a joy it was to count our blessings together.
Acknowledge your limitations and accept help when you really need it. When the doctors advised him to quit working and go on medical disability, I was really thrilled to hear that HuccÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s family had a fundraiser for him and presented him with a sizable chunk of money. He felt so encouraged by this act of love. Sometimes we just need to give in to our own shortcomings and accept the offers of help from others. The secret is to accept that help with dignity and gratitude. Pride and misery can isolate you from others when you need them the most. Take this time to care for yourself and let others take on some of the burdens of the day to day living that could easily overwhelm you. Hucc was so sad when he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have the energy to cook those wonderful meals, and was so happy when Koolaid learned to enjoy cooking with that Flavorwave.
Know when to concede that things will never be the same again and accept those changes without grudges or bitterness. Sometimes our physical abilities are changed forever. I know that when I grumble about the numbness and weakness in my arm I often need to remind myself to make the best of it and find alternative solutions to compensate for my damaged body. When Hucc was slammed with the reality that his breathing was in jeopardy, and he made that final choice to forgo any life saving attempts he was accepting the inevitable with dignity and grace. He wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t giving up his battle, he was simply letting go of his struggles and giving in to finally being at peace and going home to be with his Lord.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sure that as soon as I post this I will think of many other things that I wanted to share. But let me leave you with the most important lesson that I have personally learned from Christopher, my valiant comrade ~ and the one who has inspired me the most during my own battle with cancer: The peace in his heart and his focus in life, which permeated everything that he said and did, was a true testimony of his faith and joy.
I found this scripture that exemplifies ChristopherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s life beautifully.
Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Christopher was writing a children's book. I don't think he ever finished it, but I know that he wrote upon our hearts a bold and exhilerating tale with his own life. I'll meet up with you later my gentle friend, but until then I know you're looking down on me and every once in a while I hear your whispers in the wind encouraging me to 'keep the faith '
I will be forever grateful for my friendship with Christopher. Please feel free to share the valuable lessons that you have personally learned from our friend "Hucc".
When I finally did post on the board that I had prostrate caner, one of the first people to PM me about it was HUCC. What words of wisdom he shared. Over a period of time he would occasionally send me something very humorous to lift my spirits. He didn't know me, but, his heart was filled with love for those that battled cancer. I beat mine. So sorry you didn't HUCC. Thanks for being there through a hard time in my life. I still laugh when I reread those Pm's.
Mariposa, that was beautiful. Thank you very much for being a close friend and support to him in a way that those of us not in the Club were unable.
One of the many things I learned from Hucc was to keep a sense of humor. He could find it in just about anything. He occasionally played practical jokes on me.... some going back years, and one particularly good one when he was in the hospital during his initial round of tests. When I was having difficulty with an co-worker at an old job several years ago, he showed me how to get through the day by digging down into my own sense of humor. Sorry -- I can't post the solution here, or I'd be banned.
He also taught me how to be a better friend. No matter what was going on in his life, he cared about others -- and I mean truly cared, from the heart. As an example, there was an afternoon in early April when he called me to chat. He was able to tell immediately from my voice that something was bothering me. It was. I was having a mammogram the next day and, although it was routine, I thought I had a reason to be concerned. Now, how do I tell a best friend who had spent the past year-and-a-half battling cancer that I was concerned about a screening test I was about to have? He made it so easy, though, and when I told him, he offered encouragement. A few days later, he phoned again - he wanted to know if I had gotten the results. (I hadn't, which was a good sign, and all did turn out to be fine in the end.)
Thank you for starting this thread, Mariposa. Hugs to all.
So sad to hear of Hucc's passing, but knowing he's in a better place and pain free now helps some. It was so nice to see how Hucc, Koolaid and Oliver had become a family. Koolaid and Oliver will be in my thoughts and prayers.
I don't even know what to say. I was in shock with I signed onto the site this morning and saw this post. I don't access the site from home since I still have dial-up and was unaware until just now. When I saw the heading of Mary Ann's post, tears just started streaming.
Good bye Hucc. You were loved and will be missed. My sincere, heartfelt condolences prayers go to Koolaid and Oliver. May you find some peace in your heart knowing that Hucc is among the angels now and will forever watch over you.
Mariposa, that was so beautiful! I never met or talked on the phone with Hucc, but his loss is so heavy on my heart. We exchanged PM's, and even in those encounters, I sensed the things you so beautifully wrote about in your post.
Hucc was an amazing person. He always was caring and truly concerned. I have been reading all of the posts/threads about Hucc, and so many people were touched by him. I am so honored to have been a cyberfriend with him. He will be terribly missed by many, many people.
Hucc showed me how to not fight against my disease but to accept that it is a part of my life. I had trouble in the beginning to accept that I couldn't work and would often struggle with being home all day. Hucc would email me and through his words I was able to make my peace with the way things are.
I loved his kindness, sense of humor and words of wisdom. I miss those emails.