Dear Friends of Chuck,
Today sometime near noon our friend of a lifetime passed away in his hospice room.
He was fortunate that his brother John and niece Makita were here for the last five days to spend a great deal of time with him. They came to say good bye to him early this morning before their flights to Hawaii and Las Vegas, respectively. Later, his nurse was able to get him to eat a little bit of scrambled egg. By around eleven a.m., he began experiencing respiratory distress, and though he turned away oxygen initially, he was eventually administered an anti-anxiety drug and supplemental oxygen. His breathing became slightly calmer, but by noon, he had left this life.
The staff at the hospice crossed his arms across his chest, drew his sheet up to his shoulders and spread flower petals on him. His loving health care aide of one year, Alvarine, arrived at 1 pm to find him with his eyes closed and a calm expression on his face. A funeral home service arrived at 7 pm to take Chuck's body to Brooklyn for cremation. His sister Lois will receive his remains. He was kissed by Alvarine and myself and Ellen Weiss gently placed his baseball hat over his eyes so that he looked just as if he was sleeping or seeking respite from his surroundings, a pose anyone who has spent time in the hospital with Chuck knows well.
Just as we were leaving the hospice this evening, we encountered a nurse who was with Chuck last evening who told us he had been very jovial and interactive with the hospice staff. It was lovely to hear. I have always been warned that events can turn suddenly, within hours, in this disease, and it appears it was that way for Chuck: sudden and mercifully brief at the end.
I know we are all grieving and will be grieving for some time to come for the loss of this marvelous and loving man, who gave us so much of himself and who left us too soon. Chuck was diagnosed on January 2, 2013 after a CT scan at St. Luke's hospital and lived for more than 21 months, an extremely good run for anyone with this terrible disease. Chuck was sustained during all those months by realizing what close and devoted friends he had made over the years, often noting that even if he had acquired a terminal illness, he nevertheless had "done something right." We all know, perhaps most especially the journalists and "seekers of truth" among us, that Chuck did a great deal more that was "right" in his life.
A memorial will be held for Chuck in a month or so. Everyone is invited, details to come.
Sympathy to all,