Steve Eighinger

Learning from a friend's final journey

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 30, 2019 10:30 am Updated: Apr. 30, 2019 10:41 am

In recent months, I have learned a lot from an old friend.

Bob, who is about 10 years younger than me, was part of a sports staff I oversaw at one of the newspapers I was employed with back in Ohio. Bob was one of the friends I left behind when moving to Quincy in the late 1990s.

Bob and I would regularly spend many hours arguing the pros and cons of the Browns, Buckeyes and Indians, all in a good-natured -- even if sometimes heated -- fashion. I often think of those exchanges now as my old friend enters the final stages of a battle with multiple cancers that have ravaged his body.

In recent weeks, his condition has taken a downturn. His wife, Diane, and hospice workers try to help him manage the pain the best they can during what are his final days.

Bob and Diane courageously chose to make this final journey as public as possible, hopefully helping others who may someday find themselves in a similar situation.

There have been Facebook posts and pictures throughout the journey, and early on it was obvious Bob knew the ending that awaited him. But he is at peace with his God and has offered nothing but encouragement to others despite his own challenging condition.

Bob is no longer able to post on Facebook, but Diane does her best to keep friends and followers abreast of the situation. At times, her thoughts are incredibly raw and brave. I'm not sure I could do what she does.

"In the midst of Bob's increased discomfort I'm often paralyzed with emotion," she recently wrote. "As each day passes the disease increases and so does my heartache. It feels like a light on a dimmer switch. With each passing day the light grows dimmer.

"I lay down at night and the heartache streams down my cheeks. I think on the things of this life and how insignificant they are compared to the reality of a loved one's final days on this earth.

"We have memories that become our treasure and the material things are of little importance or value," she messaged.

Bob and Diane have a strong network of family and friends, and all have been there for them throughout this ordeal. They regularly hear from hundreds of friends and well-wishers, but I'm sure that does not lessen the difficulty or inevitability of life's final punctuation.

In recent months, watching Bob's journey has taught me to appreciate my own days even more. All of the trappings -- both good and bad -- that accompany our time should be cherished. They are all intertwined in a magnificent pathway we call life.

If my relationship with Bob over these past few months has brought me to one realization it is to not waste any of that time we are given.

Embrace the good, accept the bad, enjoy it all.

Just like Bob.