One year ago today Randy was diagnosed with Leukemia. And everything changed.
About a week before he had to go to the hospital, he took me to lunch at Taco Bell. I distinctly remember him complaining that his legs and hips hurt. I thought it was unusual that he was griping, it was quite out of character. But I dismissed it nonetheless, reassuring him that his sporatic workouts and helping runnergirl move into her new house was hard on his muscles. Soon after I got the call from the hospital.
One of the things we had to get used to after the diagnosis was that Randy couldn't go out as much. One afternoon a couple of the boys and I collected stuff from our places that Randy could do while quarantined to his apartment. I brought him a Mickey Mouse mosaic puzzle I had bought during my internship in Oak Ridge. Randy liked to call and chat with me while I was in Oak Ridge and when I bought that puzzle I would work on it while talking to him on my cell phone. He would chuckle while I would periodically curse at that damned thing, sounding like a Tourettes patient. When he saw the puzzle in the bag, he laughed at the irony. I had bought it while confined to my apartment, now I was passing it along. The other item I brought him was a deck of canasta cards I had impulsively bought at Target a couple years earlier. It was one of those things I thought would be fun for Dean and me to learn to do. Dean thought otherwise. Anyway, I told Randy to study and learn the game and then teach me how to play. He ended up learning the game with his sister Anna, and they played often while he was stuck in the apartment and in the hospital.
There have been a few landmarks since Randy's passing that have been dificult: his 28th birthday, the one and two month milestones, walking in his memory in Miles for Moffitt. But this one is very tough. I expected my grief to improve linearly over time. I didn't anticipate such pain after feeling so good for awhile. Why is this so hard? Mostly because we were all so ignorant a year ago. We didn't think this might be our last year with Randy.
The weekend after his death, we all met at his apartment to help go through his things. It was there that his mom gave me his piano, one of the most beautiful gifts I've ever gotten. Shortly after this grand gesture, Anna approched me still timid from our not knowing each other very well. She asked to keep the canasta cards. It's funny how inanimate objects can take on such profound meaning.
Some where around these few days also marks four years since I met my friend Randy (read about it here). I also met runnergirl and Cheeshead. I was on a visit being recruited by the department. As I come back to my Minneapolis apartment to tell Dean about the people I met, I could have never imagined the impact they would all have on my life.