You're never really prepared to lose anyone, I don't think.
You can know that the person is ill, and getting worse. You can see them getting a little thinner, a little frailer. You can see the pain and the effort it takes to act positive wearing through the smile, hovering constantly in the background.
And at some point the facts are such that you can know intellectually that one of these months, which then becomes one of these weeks, and ultimately becomes days, you are going to have to say goodbye.
But I don't think you can ever fully ready yourself emotionally for the loss of someone dear.
Our friend and colleague was diagnosed with colon cancer just over a year ago. By the time they discovered it, it was Stage IV. If you've not had any experience with this - and I hadn't - there are only four stages.
He was incredibly strong and positive, and he announced the news openly. He was fighting it with everything he had. His large and loving family, with a very supportive wife and sons, were all behind him in the battle.
He had so many friends, including all his colleagues. We have a fairly informal office, and people genuinely and truly become friends. The entire office was rooting for him.
With all this positive energy and modern medecine, you'd ultimately conquer it, wouldn't you?
He was my boss's boss, and even so, I have a few too many stories of a few too many drinks out with them. He was a grown man, older than me and one I fully respected as a colleague and a person, but if you got him in on a drunken scheme, his eyes would light up and he'd rub his hands gleefully; he would run with it. You could fully imagine him as a slightly wicked teenager.
I think this is the best combination of person.
In April, his friends and family organized a team to run in a colon cancer race. We might not have been the fastest or fittest, but I think our team was the largest. It was a beautiful morning, and the cherry blossoms were at their peak. Many of us mostly used it as a social occasion - walking and occasionally running, as the spirit (or the cold) moved us. And there he was, walking and running in the center of the crowd.
Afterwards he and his wife had a huge breakfast catered at our office, which is both large and in an easy location. They were so gracious, so thankful we'd all come out to demonstrate support. At a time when most people could reasonably expect to have things done for him, he was constantly giving.
I'd have to say that generosity was one of his dominant characteristics. His constant strength and grace through his illness serves as an incredible inspiration.
Yesterday he lost his battle with colon cancer. He was 43.
Saying that we are devastated, saying that we will all miss him terribly, saying that we are so sad for his family - none of those begin to cover it.