Monday, January 30, 2012

Courage when it counts

Remembering an amazing man- my cousin Gary Giudice who died this past weekend.

Gary with his son Nicky

The universe brought our families back together after my Gramma died.
And two short weeks later, he called me to tell me he needed advice...he had cancer.
Pancreatic cancer.

He asked me for any resources I could think of to help him start out on the right path. Luckily, in my line of work I knew a lot of places for him to go. I made a few calls...but the gnawing feeling hit me each time I picked up the receiver. Why now? Just when we were getting to know him and his family again.

I can't tell you how my heart sank when hearing his voice catching on the phone. But his voice still had the lilt of optimism. He wasn't accepting no for an answer, he was going to give it 'his all' for his family. "I've got a lot of people right here who need me." He was solid and certain that he was ready for the fight what he knew lay ahead of him. And he did. He fought for almost two years with a determination that defied the rigors his body endured. And over those two years we got to know him very well. And we were blessed for that precious time. So very blessed.

Life and our paths circled back and family and true friends don't measure circumstance or count hours to define what exists between them. It just is. And that's the way my cousin lived his life. To a new generation of their family we were unfamiliar faces. But nonetheless family. The bond strengthened over those 22 months.

When I was wrapped up in work getting media for our hole in one contest last year...when the rains threatened to ruin our outdoor event, a card arrived at our center. A note and a check were tucked inside. As sick as he was, he took the time to write how proud he was of me in the card and how much he wanted to help the teens going through the disease.

Gary fought so valiantly against one of the toughest cancer diagnosis there is. He rallied like a champ...and even in his final days when Mom and I visited, he was worried about us. "Please drive safe." That was the last thing he said as we waved goodbye to him from the kitchen. He was smiling, even with all the pain. 

My cousin embraced life...and anyone who walked into his life as though you'd been there forever. You didn't just get a were folded into his arms at the same time you were folded him into his heart. 

And because of that it will be impossible to erase the memory of Gary Giudice.
Miss you. 

     How do you deal with a cancer diagnosis? My cousin went sky diving. 
Live fearless. Live your dreams.