We originally created this fabulous blog for our business- New England Cheesemaking Supply Company (to help home cheese makers with their craft) and we have posted over 400 articles about cheese through the years. Recently, we made the decision to include other topics we care about. Why? We are cheese makers, but we are much, much more, and we want this to be a “wholistic” cheese blog. We hope you will respond to this change by sharing more about your lives with us (firstname.lastname@example.org).
One of our new categories is “Sustainability,” the capacity to endure. And, really, what endures but love? This will hopefully be our first article under the sub-category “Love.”
My Friend Paul
I knew Paul for almost 50 years because he was one of my younger brother’s best friends. We considered him a member of our family and we all adored him. I won’t bore you with details about him, but I will say that he was funny. And, I don’t just mean that he had a good sense of humor. I mean that he ALWAYS had something funny to say. At meals, we learned to eat very carefully because he was likely to say something hilarious and food would come flying out of our mouths. On more than one occasion, I begged him to stop because my stomach ached from laughing. He was really that funny.
A few weeks ago, Paul went into the hospital with what he thought was a respiratory infection. It turned out to be advanced, inoperable cancer and he was told that it probably wouldn’t be long before he passed. He was 63.
Those of us who loved him were devastated, of course. We came to visit him in intensive care with fear in our eyes. He would have none of that. His mission in life was to make us happy and a little death sentence would not stop him. He made us laugh about the situation, as he lay in his bed with oxygen tubes keeping him alive.
Paul had lived for the past 16 years with his partner – Michelle. They had become engaged at one point, but for one reason or another, they had never wed. When he was given his diagnosis, Paul told us he wanted to marry Michelle before he died.
This, again made us happy. We were able to focus on the task of planning a wedding for Paul and Michelle. We scheduled it for the next day. We arranged for the Town Clerk to come to his hospital room to fill out the application. Then we asked the nurses if we could have some space. The nursing staff so loved Paul at that point, that they went to the administration of the hospital to ask for help. The hospital came up with a large conference room, hot and cold food, flowers – anything and everything we wanted.
We sent out a group e-mail that night with the subject “Save the Date!” and friends from all around New England changed their schedules to come the following day.
Paul and Michelle were married 27 hours after Paul told us his wish. His nurses shaved him and dressed him and decorated his oxygen tank with balloons. They wheeled him to the conference room where over 50 of his friends, relatives, doctors and nurses were waiting. We sang when Michelle walked down the aisle.
During the ceremony, Paul interrupted the Justice of the Peace repeatedly with funny remarks and we laughed and cheered when the vows were finally sealed. Afterward, my brother gave a toast and we drank sparkling cider until we were “drunk” with happiness. For over an hour afterward, Paul sat in his wheelchair and entertained us, one by one, as we stole as many of our last few moments as we could with him. We sang and we laughed and it felt wonderful.
Four days later, he passed.
I loved Paul. I keep remembering some of the funny things Paul said and did and they still make me laugh. His gift of humor sustains me in my grief. He would have appreciated this:
“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.”
― Steve Martin