There is this guy that stole my heart. His smile could light up the room or infuriate you (if he was giving you hell, which he enjoyed giving to me!). He was not just my friend but became my family. His name is Patrick and this week he lost his battle with cancer. This is for him and for our whole family, blood or not, reeling with grief over the loss of our friend.
When I was 20 years old, I lived in a house with a bunch of boys. It was really like a frat house and I was house mom. We threw crazy parties, blasted our music, it was the home of our crew; our group of friends turned family.
One day my friend Mike brought his brother Patrick over to hang with us. Well that was it, it was all over…instant adoption into our group and into my family. He had just gotten home from basic training and he was awaiting deployment. He seemed to just stay there at the house. Like most people, he just never seemed to leave. We would have multiple tvs in the living room, a room full of boys playing video games late into the night.
When Patrick left for his first deployment, I honestly shut it all out. I worried in secret for my friend, my brother’s safety. We didn’t speak much about it, our group. We just patiently waited for our hero to come home. Well, Patrick came home and he was safe. By then some of us had moved out on our own and The ex-Hubs and I threw open our door to have Patrick live with us.
That is where Patrick and I really became close. We shopped for clothes together, him always picking gray or blue because he was color blind and me always trying to push him to get something else. We shared meals, we shared space, we fought like brother and sister, and we LOVED each other.
When Patrick left for his second deployment I was wrecked. He would call over the internet and I could hear what I can only describe as bombs…I am sure they weren’t but close a damn ’nuff. Anyway, I would pace the floor as The ex-Hubs would be talking. I would find a distraction, dishes, laundry..anything to not hear those noises. They shook me. The ex-Hubs and I would talk about how much we hoped he would be safe, that he would be watched over and guided back home.
Patrick came home again, thankfully safe and sound but not quite himself. My friend whose smile could light up the room, dimmed. He moved in with his brother and disappeared into himself. Barely seeing him, Patrick became someone “we used to know”. It was painful! I missed my friend. We tried to reach out, to offer an escape but he wasn’t biting. He was perfectly fine where he was…but was he?
Then after some time, he snapped back. It was amazing to see my friend back to himself. We saw him more often, he began being super active and he was happy. For the first time in a long time, he was happy. He was camping and kickboxing, he was planning trips and biking with his brother. For Patrick though, something was still missing. He wanted so badly to have a relationship. Then he found her! Just like that, serendipity kicked in and they found each other. I mean when I met her, I just knew, this was it. This was someone that was going to be a big part of our lives! His smile got even brighter, his eyes lit up when he talked about her; he was smitten!
Patrick would call me and talk about how great she was, how much he wanted things to work out, and how he could see building a life with her. I was so honored to be his sounding board for these moments. We started doing things together every weekend. We did dinners, cook-outs, giant Jenga at a local spot, and one no so great adventure to the Pumpkin Nights at the fairgrounds. We took a long weekend vacation last October, just the four of us. We sat up late playing games and laughing, we drank and ate and celebrated as we rung in Patrick’s birthday.
But happy moments don’t always last and by December we got news of Patrick’s cancer diagnosis. What the hell! A person who fought for our country, a person who had waited to find happiness and had finally grabbed it with both hands, sick now? With cancer?! Over the last 10 months Patrick fought and he continued to LIVE his life! He and his soulmate got married in July. They had a beautiful baby boy (although premature and a stressful event). He fought his hardest, he did everything the doctors told him and yet on Sunday night, he lost his battle.
As I remember my brother, I can’t help but think of that beautiful baby and how unfortunate it is that he will never physically know his daddy. Patrick was so looking forward to being a hands on dad; involved in little leagues and camping trips. I can’t help but think that his wonderful wife, that after just a few months of dating jumped in full force to stand by his side through this horrific battle, will have to go on without him.
I am angry! I am sad. I am tortured by the thoughts of his family grieving their loss. For me this has always been my place to “let it out” but I also want this to be a brief but loving description to Patrick’s wife and son to forever be living on the internet for them to have for peace and comfort. I want it to be a reminder of the full but too short of life that Patrick lived. The evidence that he touch those around him and made his friends/ family better because he was in their lives.
Patrick was an American hero, he was a husband and a father, a son, a brother and an uncle. He was a pain in the ass and funny as hell, stubborn and sensitive and loving. Patrick was my friend, he was a part of my family and he will forever be kept in my heart.