Nov 232015


I’ve had a sad heart lately. Last weekend a coworker and friend passed away unexpectedly (she was only 46). The same day I got the news, I found out another friend was moved to hospice care and even though I knew his time was coming soon, it was still on the forefront of my mind every day.

Our friend Chad was diagnosed with cancer at 46 earlier this spring. We’d just seen him and his lovely wife for dinner and board games at our place, then there were some cryptic posts on facebook about doctors and…then Michael got the phone call from Dawni. It was cancer. Stage 4. It was a huge shock. He was so young and vibrant and healthy.

A few years ago Chad had gotten serious about his health and was working out a lot and looked fabulous. Him and I would talk about fitness a lot and I was proud of his progress. This news was such a shock I don’t think either Michael nor I really comprehended what it meant.


He did some treatment. Surgery wasn’t an option but it seemed like the treatment was helping. It was slowing down the growth of the cancer and the updates in the facebook group seemed hopeful and positive.


In April they threw a celebration of life party. It was so wonderful! Tons of Chad’s friends and coworkers were there for a buffet lunch at a space they rented at McMenamin’s and people got up and shared hilarious and touching stories of Chad. I know it was hard for him, but Michael got up there and shared some stories, too. It was a positive, upbeat experience, not a sad one. Still, the updates following this event seemed positive and I was hopeful that he’d have more time than the doctors predicted.


Summer came and they were going to throw a birthday BBQ for Chad but unfortunately it was cancelled at the last minute when he had to go back into the hospital. Even though we were all prepared for the inevitable ending, when it was clear it was getting close I was still in denial I think. I kept hoping and thinking that he’d get better and have a little more time. That’s what I kept thinking and wishing–just give him and his wife a little more time. More time was always on my mind.

Here is an adorable picture of Chad and his wife in the photo booth at our wedding last year:


Love it! :)

I know it’s been a hard road for them both. Selfishly I related to Dawni and her pain, thinking about how it would feel if it were me in her shoes. It broke my heart. I couldn’t imagine everything she was going through. And to potentially becoming a widow before she was 40.

In October we had the chance to see Chad for the last time. He was home from the hospital finally. We took dinner for Dawni and prepared ourselves to see Chad in a hospital bed at home. But he wasn’t! He was up and moving around and came downstairs and the four of us hung out talking and sharing stories. It was fun and positive and uplifting–not the sad visit we had been preparing for. I’m so thankful we were able to see Chad, in good spirits and on a good day, and tell him in person how much we care.

I know this was really hard for Michael. They’ve been good friends a long time and it was a shock for him. It’s hard not feel sad and helpless when something like this happens.


I’ve known Chad for about 7 years. In the beginning it was just at the Brewfest every year. He came out and met up with us, whatever group we were currently with, and we’d all spend the day drinking and talking and laughing. Chad was an awesome, fascinating human being that was intelligent and could have a conversation about anything. I loved talking to him about beer, books, movies, pretty much anything. He was so smart on so many topics! And had a dark, sarcastic sense of humor.

Then him and his wife joined my book club for a little while–I’m not sure they were into the same books that the group liked (they both liked sci-fi best) so I understood when they stopped coming. We read some pretty weird books as a group! But when they were part of the group I loved Chad’s insight into whatever novel we were reading. I think part of that was that he was a writer himself.

He published his book a few years ago and I remember feeling so proud of him! I was impressed he went out and did the hard work to publish it himself, instead of being discouraged by the publishing industry (like I was). He was courageous and put himself out there.

“Brothers in Darkness” by Dalton Chad Everett:


Here is my review from 2011:

“This was a good book! I’m not really a fantasy/sci-fi book reader but this was a good middle of the road type of book that would appeal to non-fantasy readers too. The story is interesting and fast paced. I read it in a day. The main character is likable and the ending set up the continuation for another book–maybe two more? I enjoyed the local flavor since I live in Portland. The details were accurate, the writing solid. I enjoyed the Joseph Campbell-esque journey of the hero that came to play in this book. That was really well done.”

I encourage all my readers to check out his book and give it a read. It was a really good book and I’m so glad he has this legacy!

Since we saw Chad in October I’ve been checking the facebook group frequently, and every morning I logged in I held my breathe just a little bit, expecting to get the news. It’s such an odd thing to be watching for news like this. This past week was hardest, when we all knew the time was coming very soon. He was moved to hospice care and the family gave frequent updates on the facebook group of Chad’s progress to the other side.

There were funny tidbits, stories of lucid moments, and the outpouring of love and memories of everyone in the group was sometimes overwhelming to read. But at the same time, wonderful. Chad had clearly touched many people in his short life. Then late Saturday night, the final update. :( I’m glad he was surrounded by his family and people who loved him, and could help him pass on in comfort and peace.

I’m really sad for everything that has happened; I’m sad for his wife; I’m sad for Michael losing a good friend. I wish I could find something more eloquent to say but…words aren’t coming to me for some reason. They aren’t having a funeral or memorial; his Life Party was it and I get it. He’s donating his body to science at OHSU, which is commendable. I guess this is my tribute to someone who was taken too soon.

All of my personal experiences with death have been sudden, unexpected death. Living with regret for not having that one last opportunity to say how you feel to that person. That kind of grief is hard to find closure for. I’m glad everyone got a chance to say their final words to Chad and tell him how much he meant to them, before he passed.

I wanted to share what Michael posted about Chad because it was so sweet and heartfelt and pretty much summed up a good man that the world lost too soon:

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sharing some of the things that Chad taught me in person with him. We were able to reflect on them together.

Chad was the first man that I can remember that really let me know that it was Ok to admit that you weren’t good at something – even if it was something relatively simple and mundane that we all take for granted. Chad told me that he didn’t like driving a car because he wasn’t good at it. I remember being dumfounded when I heard this because prior to this statement, I just thought there were two kinds of people in the world – those that can afford cars and those that cannot. Chad could afford a car but he chose not to drive whenever possible. To put it another way, his ego was strong enough to deal with whatever you thought of this decision that he made. As a result, I just tell people how I feel about things now and I’m not concerned about what the reaction is because I know I can handle it.

Chad also taught me that it was Ok to like comic books as an adult. Chad always liked comic books and I mean always – long before they were all turned into blockbuster films by Hollywood. And he wasn’t embarrassed or ashamed about it. Chad taught me that it was Ok to like whatever you like and you didn’t need to hide that from others. Years before it became a TV show, Chad turned me on to The Walking Dead books which I have stayed current on. I love the series and would recommend it to anyone.

And most importantly, Chad taught me that you could have fun at a job that you didn’t like. People and the relationships that you develop there are bigger than the job you’re doing. You can make friends with your manager and you can remain friends with them after you leave the job.

Chad may be gone but he is not forgotten.

I’m writing this post because I needed to say something. I feel like everyone should have met Chad because he was such a cool guy. Hug your loved ones, tell them you love them and appreciate them. Let the petty shit go and try to live in the moment. No one really knows when that time will end. And do me a favor, read Chad’s wonderful book. You won’t be disappointed.

Mar 182015

Sunday afternoon I drove up to Seattle to spend a few days with my mom and to go to my great Aunt Mary’s funeral. She passed away last month at the age of 95! She lived a really long, full life and had three kids and one grandkid. I love hearing the old stories my grandma would tell. The two of them lived together (unheard of at the time) in their twenties instead of getting married. They went traveled together and went on road trips and best of all went DANCING! Every night! My grandma was quite the dancer. :)


It’s so cool to hear those old stories because that wasn’t the norm in the 1930’s and 1940’s…women left their parent’s house and immediate moved into their husband’s house. While I was visiting I got to see some old photos of my grandparents on their wedding day:


My grandmother recently moved into an apartment, after living in the house she had with my grandpa for something like 62 years! Change is hard. I think the rest of the family is having a harder time with her moving than she is! She seems to be loving her new posh pad (which my aunt decorated gorgeously!).

So Sunday I got into town and my mom and I went to see my grandma at her new place and then met my aunt (the talented decorator) for dinner at the Bengal Tiger Indian restaurant. I rarely eat Indian food because Michael’s not a fan (same story with my mom–my dad doesn’t like it so she never eats it) so it was a nice treat to go out!



I have no idea what we ordered now. But it was delicious! I had a little bit of everything. Monday morning I got up and went to the gym. Then my mom and I spent the day puttering around. I went to see my other grandmother who is in a nursing home and we did some stuff around Seattle, and then got to go through some of the old family heirlooms. Like this gem:


My great-grandfather went to the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962 and had his fortune read. :) My great grandfather was actually quite the writer. He used to keep journals and there were many many (too many to count) volumes of his journals that he actually COPIED for all of his 7 children so they’d have a copy. And by copy I mean hand-written. Before xerox. He re-wrote every single journal (and I think there were like 25 or 30 of them in each set). As a teenager I actually went through my grandmother’s copies and tried to read them. My plan was to transcribe them and type them up but I don’t know that I ever finished and I don’t know what happened to what I worked on. Some of it was difficult to read, too.


But he also kept journals of newspaper clippings. Like this one:


He got married on Ground Hog’s Day 1916 during “the big snow.” :) I find this stuff SO fascinating! I would LOVE to go through all the old journals and books of newspaper clippings.

Then we grabbed dinner at this magical place:

Tuesday was the funeral. They were saying the rosary at 10:30 and the funeral mass started at 11. It didn’t finish until nearly 1pm and then there was a lunch at the church. It was a REALLY nice service and the Eulogy was written and read by Mary’s son Pat. He did a great job. Mary’s daughter, Margaret, was actually the person who took me to my first ever concert! She was the cool older cousin (I guess my second cousin?) who my mom and dad gave permission to take me and my group of friends. Man, times have changed haven’t they? But I think I was 14 and Margaret took us and we all had a great time (White Zombie, L7, The Melvins, and Babes In Toyland was the concert!!).


Anyways, Mary is in the left, my grandma is on the right. I remember going to Aunt Mary’s house as a kid in the summertime because she had a swimming pool! In Seattle!! Which was unheard of it. But as kids we’d go over there and splash around and she’d make us lemonade and lunch and she was always so sweet and gentle. That’s how I remember her, very sweet.


I took those photos a few years ago at our family reunion. When both Mary and my grandma busted out the harmonicas and started playing. The funeral was really nice and mostly positive. She’d lived such a long, full life, it is hard to be sad but I’m still a little sad. And sad for my grandma that she lost her sister.

I didn’t end up staying for the St. Patrick’s Day party after the funeral (Aunt Mary always threw a big party) which was disappointing but I had a long drive back to Portland and wanted to miss Seattle rush-hour AND Portland traffic if I could. I said my goodbyes and hit the road. It was a good trip and I’m glad I got to spend some quality time with family.