My friend of 23 years, Shawn Daly, lost his hard fought battle of 3 years to cancer early last Sunday morning.
I have written about my friendship with Shawn previously in a passage in this blog on July 2011 titled, "A Tumultuous Friendship."
As Shawn's cancer situation became more dire, his messages both verbal and his texts were more touching and loving. He had expressed to me many times how much he loved me and what a great friend he felt I had been to him over the years.
I in turn, told him many times how proud I was of him and his indelible courage and the strength he demonstrated throughout his illness.
I went to see Shawn about three weeks before he left this world and we had a great visit. I was amazed that despite the fact at that time, and unknown to him, he had about two weeks to live. Although of course he looked frail, thin, and his complexion was pale, he was not bedridden and was still able to walk downstairs, sit on the sofa and talk.
When I left his house after that visit, I wasn't sure I would ever see or speak to him again. I was quite troubled.
A week later he called me and said his mother and step-father were visiting him for the weekend and his mother really wanted to see me. I had met Shawn's mother many years ago and she and I really "clicked."
I made arrangements to see Shawn and his family on the following Sunday, one week before Shawn succumbed to cancer.
During the 10 days that had passed since my last visit, I could see a significant decline in Shawn. He was now on oxygen and heavily medicated, but still not bedridden and fairly lucid in spite of all the drugs.
He and I talked, just the two of us in the living room, he expressed his concerns about how Vinnie, his lover of seven years, would fair after he was gone.
I was as reassuring as I could be that I would help Vinnie in any way that I could; be a shoulder to cry on, a voice of reason, and support him psychologically to the best of my ability.
I told my dear friend, Shawn that I felt this illness had changed him. Shawn had evolved spiritually over the last years of his life, he was a very loving, caring and compassionate man.
I went on to tell Shawn, the courage, tenacity and perservance he demonstrated throughout his 3 year illness were some of the best human qualities that could ever be exhibited by any human being.
I continued to express my feeling that when people speak of Shawn, the Shawn of the last few years, people will say there was a person of great determination and the ultimate representation of courageousness.
As I continued to speak to Shawn, I said, the legacy you have left to this world and what you will be remembered for the most is your courage and strength. What better legacy could anyone ever leave?
When you are in Shawn's situation, my situation or any situation where feeling sorry for yourself might be an option, you look for inspiration. People who have been confronted with any of a myriad of difficult struggles or mishaps and yet have fought to overcome their disadvantages become inspirational to others.
Shawn brought the light of inspiration and the faith of believing in yourself, against all odds, by working toward a goal, beating cancer, learning to walk or whatever it may be, is really the only beneficial objective to pursue.
Shawn was an inspiration to me, to be strong, optimistic, and finish the race with dignity, grace and honor.
While I was at Shawn's house that last Sunday we were together, he said he had to leave, that he, Vinnie, and his best friend, Ronco, were going to the movies.
Think about that, this man, Shawn, with about a week to live, went to the movies with his lover and best friend. That whole scenario makes me smile. When I said goodbye to Shawn for the very last time, in this lifetime, he was going to the movies! Amazing and Inspirational.
Need I say more.......?