Dear Keith,

I walked away from blogging about life for a few years because I had nothing to say. My life was perfect. Things have changed, and I have plenty to talk about… what I’ve survived and what I’m facing.

I’ve lived a life other people dream of until it all came crashing down on New Year’s Eve, 2022. I had no warnings, no clues, no way of knowing life was about to kick me smack in the head. It wasn’t like a sucker punch that I could’ve survived. It was a full-fledge attack. I was going down, and there was no rescue plan. 2022 dealt me the last 14 minutes of George Floyd’s life. It was cruel and brutal. All I could do was brace for impact. I was stuck in a bad horror movie, and I couldn’t make it stop. No one could have predicted the outcome.

I hate the word “survivor.” I’m not a survivor; I just couldn’t find the exit. I’ve been consumed with grief and depression so deep that I was hospitalized for a week. That improved nothing. Doctors’ pills give you brand new ills, and the bills bury you like an avalanche. There was simply no help available to relieve my trauma.

On December 31, 2021, at 11:38 pm, my husband collapsed at our Miami Beach home from cancer of the lungs, bone, and brain. We had no symptoms or any reason to believe he was sick. We’d just said what we were thankful for in 2021 and what we planned to achieve in 2022. Within hours our lives would be destroyed by a silent killer.

I panicked when he was diagnosed with lung cancer on New Year’s Day. I’m not your “go-to” guy in a crisis. I fall apart very publicly, then I try to immediately take control of the situation. I failed miserably. I could not save him. His cancer was too advanced. Doctors just looked at us with sadness. He was given 5 months to live, and he survived for 71 days.

No airline would allow him to fly in his condition, so I rented an SUV, bought a mattress for him, and drove across Florida trying to save him. From Miami to Jacksonville, we traveled in hopes of a cure. I failed. We endured 10 hospitalizations in 71 days over 345 miles. There was no way to cure him. His spine had turned to the consistency of oatmeal, and he could not stand.

Following cancer came several strokes that left him completely debilitated. Half of his spine was replaced with metal rods to ease his pain, yet he was in hospice within 14 days of surgery. It was agonizing to see such suffering. He didn’t know my name, but he remembered my face. He’d smile and say, “you’re a good man, and you’re my baby.”

I’m not a good man. I’ve done terrible things and hurt innocent people with no regard for their feelings. I’ve been sober for 3,200 days, but that has not erased the simple fact that I’m an asshole. Maybe karma had enough this time. Perhaps the negativity I’ve spewed to the world was finally stopped. Karma has been repaid for every transgression I’ve ever made. She has beaten me to a bloody pulp and won’t stop.

Next week we will celebrate Keith’s life, and he will be set free off the California coast. The following is my message to the kindest soul I’ve ever known:

Dear Keith,

Thank you. Thank you for loving without reservation. I have been on this planet for 60 years but only alive for 7. You were the calm before the storm I so desperately sought, and I was the untamable free spirit you could never be. We were polar opposites in every way but a driven force once united.

I remember you telling me once we needed a vacation, and I disagreed. I responded that we needed to live a vacation. So, we did. We sold everything that wouldn’t fit in two suitcases, and we left to see the world.

Our journeys took us from the jungles of Central & South America, the U.S., Asia, Cuba, the Caribbean, and the warm shores of Maui. There was no place too remote or dangerous for us because we were together.

We moved 11 times in 7 years, never staying anywhere longer than we wanted. From shacks without kitchens on tropical islands to penthouses and skyscrapers, we were free to do nothing more than simply live, love and laugh.

We made no demands on each other or set impossible standards. We created what many will never know. We formed a partnership built on a foundation of love and forgiveness. What we had can never happen again in one lifetime. It was too perfect.

We had a joke about a conversation you had with a friend when you said, Rob is crazy… I like crazy… that’s why it works.” You were so right; I am crazy… crazy in love with you.

For the past 7 years, we have been inseparable. We were a united team through good times and bad, sickness and health. We were buddies. We were one.

I was terrified of you when we met. You’d driven from L.A. to Palm Springs in a BMW convertible, affecting your hearing. For 5 minutes, you yelled responses to my questions. Thinking the worst, I brought my niece on our first date as a backup. True to form, I ran out of gas on the way to the restaurant. You looked at me and said, “You need me.” You had no idea how badly I needed you.

When we committed as a couple, you asked, “What do you expect of me?” I replied, “just take care of me; I’ll handle the rest,” You did just that. You handled everything in our home and lives. You created the home I thought I’d never find. You were my salvation from chaos and regret.

Today, I sit in our Miami Beach dream home alone. Portraits, photographs, and paintings hang everywhere, reminding me of a perfect moment in time shared with the man I love.

I did everything I could to save you. We held to each other united as a silent enemy ravaged your body and, eventually, your mind.

You were my “Bald Chinese Guy,” and I was your “Day Old Bagel.”

You told me you’d be waiting for me when my life is over. I’m going to hold you to it.

If I live 100 years or 100 lifetimes, there will never be another you.

Your loving husband,

Rob

Author: robcan2

I'm a sober guy living life on life's terms... I’m making the rest of my life the best of my life !

3 thoughts on “Dear Keith,”

  1. Rob, as I learn more about your life and especially your love affair with Keith, my admiration continues to grow. Millions live a lifetime without experiencing the love you and Keith shared.
    As my wonderful sister, Selecia, has reminded me through words delivered from our phenomenal Mama, “we’re here for a good time, not for a long time.” While after 8 1/2 years, we still grapple with these words of wisdom and the reality of her loss, we continue to miss her presence and daily calls/Skype/emails.
    We continue to open and write new chapters in our lives. I am confident you will do the same. Keith is always beside you. Hopefully you’ll experience moments where you can feel his presence.
    So grateful have chosen life, new experiences and we are confident that you and Keith will continue to be together, love, enjoy new experiences and continue towards the moment you’re actually re-united.

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  2. There are no words to express my sincerest condolences. May you find peace and comfort from loving Keith and may his memory keep you strong. He was a gift to you. Although you spend time regretting your past, G-d saw that you had redeemed yourself and blessed you with your soul mate for however long he seemed perfect. Your care and comfort you gave is a testement to you love. May time heal your heart and fill it with pride and hope and life. You both were sent to save each other. And that you did. You should be very proud of yourself…

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