I is for invincible and immortal two things that we humans are basically not.
I is also for insidious and invasive which cancer so often is.
Cancer; a cruel disease which took the life of a friend this past week. Erwin passed away on June 7th – he was 38 years old. He had Adenocarcinoma of the lung with metastasis in the brain, bones and abdominal lining.
In 2008 Erwin was complaining of back pain and after x-rays were taken he was (mis)diagnosed with Tuberculosis and treatment began for that. In February 2009 Erwin sought a second opinion; the new doctor did a needle biopsy and we then learnt that Erwin had lung cancer. By September 2009 there were lesions in his brain.
I met Erwin in 2005 when he attended a presentation I was giving on “Telephone Etiquette”… he was the first with a question at the end: When will you be on PBS?
That was a reference to my “dulcet tones” and the beginning of our friendship.
Last year I was present at the ceremony* when he wed long time partner Ed surrounded by a small number of friends and their 2 little boys, now 8 and 5 yo.
Erwin was a very special person – even nearing the end of his own life he remained concerned for others “less fortunate” than himself . In April he joined others from our company as we participated in Feed the Homeless for the Arlington Streets People Association:
Erwin packed a lot into those 38 years as if he knew deep down that he was not going to have the 3 score and 10. He came from a small town in the Philippines; he traveled extensively and shared wonderful stories and experiences with so many; he was incredibly generous. Basically he really was just a great guy and he is gone too soon. His funeral service was held on Saturday and at the end more than 100 white balloons with little messages from mourners were released into the sky above the hearse:
The morning was indescribably sad but it was not without a couple of moments of lightness which I think Erwin would’ve appreciated: I commented to a friend next to me “who comes to a funeral without tissues” when two young ladies infront of us had to get toilet paper from the restroom to dry their tears.
And on the trip home I said to the manservant: “If I die before you, please choose hymns that people can sing along to”. We must’ve sounded like a flock being strangled.
You can Rest in Peace now Erwin.
* Their marriage was granted by Wish Upon A Wedding, a nonprofit organization which provides weddings to couples facing terminal illness or other serious life altering circumstances regardless of sexual orientation – I believe Erwin & Ed’s wedding was the first for the DC chapter.