After departing St. Thomas, we headed out to explore the
Spanish Virgin Islands. We enjoyed the rural beauty of Vieques, with
horses grazing on the green hill sides. We walked around the little
quiet little town of Esperanza. Lucy is always excited to stretch
her legs. We took her out for walks along the beach path. We
spent several days moving about the anchorages before heading to Puerto
Rico. We were anxious to get there because we had some boat parts
waiting for us with our friend, Carlos.
We anchored each night at little islands on the way to San Juan, Puerto
Rico. We weren't up for an overnight sail. Not sure why.
Just didn't want to. The moon was full, so it would have been
easy. But it was even better being at a beautiful anchorage with the
It was wonderful to see Carlos and Olga again. They got married
last fall and we were happy to celebrate with the newlyweds! Once
again, Carlos cooked some fantastic meals for us. He is an excellent
cook and we are more than willing to let him experiment on us!
While in Puerto Rico, I got word that my younger brother Mark, who had
recently completed 8 months of chemotherapy and was happy to be
cancer-free, had just been admitted to the hospital in critical
condition. Apparently, the chemotherapy scarred his lungs with
pulmonary fibrosis, which is a non-curable and deadly disease. He
was put on oxygen in the CCU. I caught a flight to Texas to see
him. As he struggled to breathe, he told me that he would beat this
thing, this wasn't going to be how he was going out. He wanted to
take care of his family. His wife, Diane, was pregnant and their
baby was due in 2 weeks. The doctor said that Mark didn't have long,
so they decided to induce labor. They wheeled Mark's bed to the
delivery room so he could be next to Diane for the birth. They
invited me to be in the delivery room so I could take pictures of
Savannah's first moments of life with her daddy. After Savannah was
born, the other 4 children were brought into the delivery room to see
their daddy and new little sister. It was the most heart-breaking
day of my life. 5 days later, on January 23, Mark died. Diane
never left his side and kissed him and held his hand until the end.
It has been a month now, and I still cry every day. I can't seem
to move on and accept the unfairness of it. The chemotherapy had
been as a precaution only. His tumor removal last spring had removed
the malignancy. 4 months into the chemo, the doctor saw blurring in
his lungs on the CT scan, but said it was probably nothing. They
continued to pump him with chemo for 4 more months. Unbeknownst to
Mark, pulmonary fibrosis is a rare side-effect of the chemo. His
chemo should have been stopped immediately when they saw a problem.
Mark had also been telling the doctor that he felt tired and was having
trouble breathing. Why didn't they stop the chemo? I'm still
so angry. I feel like he was murdered. His story made the news
and Diane has received donations from people across the country, which
will help keep a roof over their heads for a while. Mark was such a
kind-hearted and trusting soul. He was funny and good-natured and a
wonderful daddy. The look in his eyes when I last saw him ..
determination, resolve, anger, then desperation, sadness, and fear.
I'll never get over this.