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Column: ‘Going Bill’

Posted: September 10, 2018 4:33 p.m.
Updated: September 11, 2018 1:00 a.m.

I lost a very good friend three weeks ago. His name “is” Bill, not “was” as I find it too hard and too soon to use the past tense. Some of you reading this may not know Bill but his story is one we can all gain perspective from. His passing was sudden and unexpected, and at the least, a stunning blow to all who knew and loved him including myself, like an incredibly bad dream we can’t wake up from. It is a harsh reality that quickly reminds us just how fragile life is. The loss of someone we love deeply is never easy; no death is regardless of the circumstance. But one that is completely untimely and abrupt like that of my friend’s adds I believe another layer. Bill’s family and friends will have to fight through the shock to get to the other side of the battle only to face the grief head on. But we will as best we can. This war of emotional pain will be difficult and challenging to deal with but is beautifully flanked by all our God-given memories of Bill, and for this we are ever so thankful.

His passing echoes an important lesson for all of us: with love, comes suffering. It is simply the price we pay for loving each other. And we will do it again and again. We must remember to cherish our personal relationships; every day is a gift. Bill made it easy for his family and friends to love him and love him profoundly. He was a quiet, behind the scenes giant, the epitome of irreplaceable. He was the rock to many and served others patiently, lovingly, and with no complaints or strings attached. It is who Bill was. His attitude was infectious and happy. Bill was the kind of person who was excited about most everything: excited to do things with his family, excited to help people through his computer business, excited to visit with friends, excited to be out in the natural world, excited to be alive. These attributes made Bill a joy to be around. It was effortless to be in his presence. He made friends easily, and was genuinely concerned about each and every one of those friends.

Many of us spent hours on the trail with Bill as we hiked miles together fighting childhood cancers. I know firsthand what a pleasure it was to spend time on the trail with Bill.  It is what I will miss most; it is a void that will remain.  It is a huge, devastating loss for all in our “Ultimate Hike” and “CureSearch” families. Both of Bill’s brothers spoke at the memorial service about how his experience with the “Ultimate Hike” had enriched his life. Bill hiked hundreds of miles and raised thousands of dollars all for hopes in finding cures in childhood cancers. But what you should know is that he did it, not because he had a connection to pediatric cancer, but because it was a good thing to do. Bill served the very ones who are in the fight of their lives. He was a good servant.

So, until we meet again our dear Bill -- son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, friend. The trail will never be the same without you on it. You were the best friend to so many, including me. Thank you for all the memories, “Uncle Stinky.” No matter how muddy or hot or long in miles the trail was, you always found a way to make us laugh and keep going. The void can never be replaced but we know you’ll be with us in spirit always.

Here’s to broken headlamps at 4:30 a.m., road tripping with Richard in my urban assault vehicle, duct-taped hiking boots, sore feet and shoulders, carb-loading, and all the good times we shared. We will miss you terribly.

Love you my dear friend. You left too soon. I’ve got a hole in my heart. It’s a trail thing. “A ship fades from our view; we wave good-bye …” Heaven’s the lucky one now.

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