Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day One

Last night, while trying to provide words of support and comfort, a friend told me “Tomorrow will be a new day.”

My response: “Yes. Tomorrow will be the first day without Alex”.

To catch you up…

After the nurse came to put in the morphine pump, Alex remained awake and fitful. He was strong enough to make enough of a fuss about having a condom catheter put on that they just went with the diapers. With pump button in hand we tried to let him rest.

For the next few hours Julia stayed with him as he continued to move around in bed. Occasionally closing his eyes and looking like he was about to drift off into a peaceful sleep, he’d then open his eyes wide and start reaching and pulling for the side bed rails. This was interspersed with weak fits of coughing.

2am…

Now he’s trying to get himself out of bed.

Julia is able to stop him and get him to bed, now with the condom catheter on, but we need to keep him in bed. Doing a little ad-hoc engineering we put a large couch cushion next to the bed and wedge it in with a heavy nightstand.

He continued to be fitful.

A call to the nurse on call proved unhelpful.

Finally at 3am, with a major presentation looming on me… I had to go and get some sleep. I wished my buddy a good night sleep. Kissing him gently on the forehead. Not realizing it would be the last time I’d see him alive, but being so thankful for having such a great day.

Day Zero

Yesterday morning, while I was sitting in a meeting with the Web IT Director, Julia called. Hoping against hope that it was just about the packing we planned on doing that day, or a lunch request order, I answered and asked what was up.

She informed me that Alex had just passed.

The Web IT Director, also a friend, was just asking about Alex and how he was doing. After hearing Julia’s words I was able to get out an “It’s over” and did what I could to hold the tears at bay as I went down to my office. Those were the last words I was able to say for the next ½ hr. In my office my officemate wanted to know what was going on with the status of things. Opening my email account I wrote a simple letter to her and other key coworkers who were followers of Alex’s blog, and knew we were good friends, that Alex’s suffering was finally over.

With tears streaming down my face, and my co-worker’s comments of “Dear God, I am so sorry” as she put her hands on my shoulders I packed up my belongings to head out.

Now… looking back on it… driving while crying and so emotionally upset is an extremely stupid thing to do. To make it worse, I received a text from my brother, an attorney who helped out with answering some questions about the will the day before, and I actually wrote him back that it was over.… while driving… while crying… Thank God I didn’t get into an accident.

Score one for stupidity.

At the house, Alex’s door was closed while the nurse was in there preparing his body. I cannot express in words the palpable sorrow that filled the house.

Not enough tears could ever be shed.

Not enough sobs could ever be heard.

Not enough hugs could ever be given to relieve the pain felt at such a loss.

The rest of the day was a blur of notifying people, and forgetting to notify so many others, people visiting – thank you Alan for bringing food.

He did look so peaceful...

He had this little smirk on his face as if he knew a joke… Like a massive stash of years and years of outdated receipts waiting for us, or more empty film canisters… hidden like Easter eggs throughout his place.

Alex’s mom did though want a “family photo” . Which.. umm.. was a little interesting and added a little levity to a horrible, horrible situation.

Guess you could just say that Alex blinked…

The two things I remember most are the wails of his mother and the sights and sounds of his body being wheeled out.

“He’s still warm. He’s still warm….” She wailed.

Clinging to his body she didn’t want her son, her baby boy, to go.

When the last person paid their respects, and they took his body, the clanging of the gurney as it was rolled out was mixed in with the deep resounding sounds of the large wind chimes that hung nearby.

For the rest of the day we organized the medical equipment, collected more and more bottles of pills and medical supplies, trying to find a place to properly dispose of everything and a place for his memorial.

Serena, Janet, Gloria, Alan and I went out to check out a few spots to have his memorial. After a few calls, an attempt to burn out the clutch and several site visits – we finally found a place thanks to my research advisor. Long and emotional day… and feeling weak and weary from tears and heartache, we gathered together and went out to eat and then went to our respective homes to try and get some sleep.

Day 1

We are now back at Alex's old place making final arrangements for his memorial service.

Please stay posted as we finalize the information.

At a high level it will be held this Sunday, at 11am in Half Moon Bay, CA.

----------------------------------------
Written by: Blase B. Iuliano
Edited by: Janet Cheng

9 comments:

Siobhan said...

RIP Alex. Blase, thank you for the update, and I am sorry for your loss. Please let us know if there is somewhere we can leave thoughts for his family.

nate said...

Rest in Peace Alex

Caitlin said...

Alex we love you so much and you are in our thoughts!!! What a wonderful life that touched so many others. I remember landing in Nairobi, my first time in Africa, scared as heck, and Alex picked me up at the airport with a hug and a smile. I have so many happy memories of Alex from CEK and Stanford that will always stay with me. Thank you to all of you helping with the blog to keep those of us who are far away updated.

Anastasia said...

I am so sorry for Alex's passing and the great loss his friends & family are feeling. I know that he found peace.

K-Liu said...

I hadn't seen Alex since we were kids, and did not know of his illness - I'm shocked and so saddened by this news. I do remember that even as a 9 year old, he already had a mischievous smile and a penchant for making wisecracks. And he was smart as heck. It's clear that he grew up to be an extraordinary and gifted guy who was surrounded by lots of loving family and friends to the end.

Rest in Peace, Alex. My heart goes out to you, your family, and many friends.

Carol said...

I wish I could be there to add my support in person, not that it would be necessary... Blase, Serena, everyone who was there to the end, I salute your strength and am thankful that Alex had you all around him. Thanks again for keeping the rest of us informed. The world, and more particularly Cosmos Education, is definitely a lesser place without Alex. I will be with you in spirit on Sunday.

Laila said...

Even though its been less than a year ago that I met Alex but I must say it was definitely great to meet him. Great choice in movies, my memories of watch Real Genius will be with him, along with last years 4th of July! Seems like it was just yesterday. Its good to see and hear that he's got such great friends to help him out with everything. We can only be so lucky to have such kindness shared amongst a variety of people we meet along the way. Rest in peace, Alex!

Laila

Amy said...

I'm a friend of Alex's sister Julia and remember meeting him for the first time when he was just a kid and came to visit Julia at college. Alex's friends and family are in my heart, thoughts and prayers right now.

Rest in peace, Alex. May your memory be a blessing to all those who love you.

Nikola said...

I will remember Alex as a wonderful teaching assistant and a fun officemate. I am moved by his courage, inspired by his attitude, and grateful for the time spent in his company, both in person and on this blog.