Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Lost Goodbye

This past Friday, a friend of mine, David Ostiguy, passed away. I love how his wife informed friends and family, through CaringBridge:
It is with deep sadness and grief to inform you of the passing of David Ostiguy around 5pm last night. It was as he wanted - away from home with me by his side.
It is beautiful and poetic.

David had a rare form of cancer called sarcoma. When I knew of David, I had just moved into an area of work that he also worked in. He had sent an email out explaining that he was about to undergo a second amputation surgery on his right arm. His cancer had apparently had not been entirely removed and the next step was to amputate at the elbow. He explained the process and asked that no one would focus on it upon his return; to treat him as we would have any other time.

Over the next several months, I would see Dave in my running circles. He was faster than me so it was usually a "hey" in passing. In 2008, we were both training for the City of Oaks Half Marathon.

I remember one run I had in Umstead. It was a sluggish one for me and as I passed through the gate into Umstead (from Old Reedy Creek), I saw Dave tying his shoes. We gave each other a nod and hello and I went on my 'merry' way. As I approached Airport Overlook, I heard gravel kicking up behind me and I turned to see David, running up to me. He asked if he could run with me for a bit because he was having a hard time with the heat. I thought "you have no idea how bad I am doing too" but instead I said "sure!" Because the fact was, I was privileged to have him run along with me.

That's as far as our social interaction went: our shared love of running. But we worked in similar circles, so we ended up attending the same meetings. He was intelligent and always forthcoming with his take on things. I respected him for that and it had nothing to do with him being sick.

And he never, ever looked sick. It is incredible that he suffered as much as he did, especially in the past year when his cancer spread to his spine, then to his lungs and liver.

It was actually looking like he had it beat. Last year, he had a new prosthetic created for his mountain bike. He posted those pictures proudly on Facebook and he looked amazing.

It would be soon after that I got word that he had to have his entire arm amputated. And then the news would get worse.

Leilani, David's wife, would write many of the entries on their CaringBridge site. I have never met her but I feel she is a wonderful person through her beautiful and loving entries. She shared their life with "us", their determination of living life to the fullest. It was inspirational. And the last sentence or two would bring the grim news: tests were not improving. It was one entry she posted in August that caught me off-guard, along with news of a cancer death from a distant acquaintance that I wrote this.

I had just learned on Thursday that David was no longer at work; that this was it. He was going to continue to go to work until he couldn't and 'couldn't' had finally arrived. It seemed impossible, since it felt like I had just seen him in a meeting...but my days have been unbelievably jammed that it never occurred to me that I hadn't actually seen him in awhile. And I felt awful. I wrote him an email via Facebook Thursday to tell him my memory of the run at Umstead. I cried as I wrote it, thinking that, not only would I never see him alive again, I was writing what could be the last thing ever to him. Ever. It's a sad and scary thing to realize.

And then...Friday, an announcement from David's manager that he had passed away.

Cancer sucks.

Rick Evans, a good friend and co-worker of David's, has helped set up a research fund in David's honor. David's cancer is a rare form that preys primarily on children. The research fund will go through Duke's pediatric area, where the experts happen to work. Donations can be made to "Duke University Pediatric Sarcoma Research Fund" at:

Daniel S. Wechsler, MD, PhD
Chief, Pediatric Hematology-Oncology
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Duke University Medical Center
397 Hanes House
DUMC Box 102382
Durham, NC 27710

2 comments:

  1. My mom's an amateur genealogist, so she has lots of old newspaper clippings, and some of the obituaries and wedding announcements are beautiful. Now days they say "So and so got married at this church and here are the names of the wedding party," but these are more like "Mr. Groom, the darling of the town of Cambria, was married today to Miss Bride, a most beautiful woman who is adored by all. It was a lavish ceremony, with..."
    I don't think nonfiction need be mechanical.
    Reading your memory made me very sad, as I just walked those same paths in Umpstead earlier today (and I have a newfound awe of your running abilities).

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  2. Not sure how I came across your blog but thank you for sharing your thoughts. I know Dave and Leilani. I still cannot bring myself to say the word "knew" when referring to Dave. I am so glad that he is now in a better place but I selfishly wish he were still here on earth. The last conversation I had with Dave he ended by saying "cancer sucks." He faced his battle with the most grace, dignity and courage of anyone I know. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. It brought me some much needed comfort.

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