This was the post I never wanted to write, and that I wasn't sure I'd publish. I'm not one to discuss other people's lives on my blog, due to their privacy. Initially, I wrote this for me because I didn't know how else to express myself. When Rob saw me writing it, he told me I should go ahead and share it. Afterward, I actually remembered when I first started my blog. I told Rob's dad about it on a trip up to Tallahassee. Throughout the trip, whenever I was on the computer he asked me if I was blogging. Eventually, he started suggesting things I should blog about. As in, "You ought to blog about that restaurant. It was horrible!" So somehow, I think he would be okay with this, too.
On Saturday, Rob received a call from his mom that his dad was in critical care at the hospital. His dad had been battling leukemia since May of this year, and had just finished eight chemotherapy treatments. We had been at their house to celebrate Christmas just a few days before, and Rob's dad seemed to be doing well. He was happy to have finished all of his treatments, thrilled to be celebrating the happiest of all holidays, and just excited about what 2013 had in store for him. So it came as an incredible shock that he was in the hospital and doing so poorly. I think deep down, while we prayed and hoped for a better outcome, we knew what would happen that afternoon. We packed formal clothes. We tried to set up our house for us to be gone awhile. We got in the car as quickly as we could, planning to drive directly to the hospital.
About two hours into the drive, Rob received the call that his dad passed away.
It's hard to know what to write after that sentence, because I still can't believe it myself. I can still see us pulling out of the driveway, waving goodbye to Rob's smiling parents as we left after Christmas. I can still see his dad dancing in the living room to gospel music as we watched Joyful Noise on television Christmas night while I laughed. Eating fries at the Shake Shack and drinking a milkshake. Taking every last crumb of the chocolate mousse cake I made that he raved about. Holding their pet Maltese and saying, "How could you not love this face?" And when I think of all of that, I just can't make sense of the fact that he's not here.
It took me some time to get close to Rob's dad. I still remember the first night we met. I met Rob and his parents at a seafood restaurant in South Florida. I'd already met his mom, but the idea of meeting Roy made me even more nervous. I wanted so badly for his parents to like me. So badly, in fact, that when Roy ordered raw oysters and asked me to try one, I did. And said I liked it. I would have done pretty much anything to get his approval. But what I should have known then is that by loving his oldest son, I already had it.
I can't tell you how many times Roy told me that I was part of their family, one of them. He said it in front of their friends, even to the nurses at the hospital. He always made it a point to thank me when I came to family gatherings, especially the tough ones like Rob's grandfather's funeral last month. He didn't have to thank me...I always wanted to be there. But he wanted to let me know that my presence was meaningful to him, and that always meant something to me.
I've come to realize over the years what an amazing husband and father he was. Even after almost thirty years of marriage, he still introduced her as, "My beautiful wife, Barbara." He measured out the serious fatherly discussions with a lot of nurturing and concern for his sons. He always wanted to protect them from the bad things, especially when the bad news involved him. Roy wasn't one to complain about anything, ever, and he always put on a good face for his family. I remember visiting him in the hospital once after his diagnosis and he asked me, "So, what questions do you have about all of this?" As if what we were talking about was something other than blood cancer and the fight for his life.
I am going to miss a lot of things about Roy. How he said what he felt, no matter what. His corny jokes. Watching him interact with family. His presence at all the holidays and celebrations and family events to come. It's easy to be angry, to ask "Why?", to question where God is in all of this, to sob. I have done all of that in the past couple of days. But more than anything, I am trying to keep foremost in my mind how grateful I was to know him for the past (almost) seven years. I think about Rob, and I wish I could tell Roy that he gave me the greatest gift in the world when he helped create and raise an amazing man. I wish I could thank him because I know the reason Rob is so protective and cherishes me the way he does is because of his living example with his own wife. I will never forget the happiness he brought to my life, and I will always strive to honor his memory by loving and caring for the family that was so important to him.
Rest in peace.