January 2012 Letter

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January 2012
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 full moon.

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.

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