"A healthy body is a guest chamber for the soul: a sick body is a prison."
~ Francis Bacon, Sr.
Dale William Petersen, age 49, died at 2 am, June 3, 2007, of complications of a bone marrow transplant. He was just shy of his 50th birthday, which would have been on June 28th. Throughout his illness, he often told me he just wanted to make it to 50, and through sheer determination and strength of character, he nearly did. The medical staff called him the Energizer Bunny because he just kept going and going.
All of you who've known Dale in real life and through this blog know that he was golden; as good a friend as you'd ever have. I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with him in the last several months. I know I am a better person because of it. Next to my son, Dale was my favorite person in the universe.
He was a dear friend to so many. Carol, a former co-worker of Dale's, loved him with all her heart and he loved her just as much. She had planned to come visit him last week, but became ill herself and had to postpone the trip for a few days. One of Dale's best friends, Darek, had spent several days with him this past week. Our Cousin Kay spent countless hours in the hospital with him in Billings and made two trips to Denver to see him as well.
I can't tell you how many of Dale's friends called to see how he was doing and/or sent cards or letters. One dear elderly lady even sent him a check for $20.00, which of course he didn't cash. When he was in Billings at the hospital, he had a steady stream of visitors. He said he couldn't believe how many people cared about him. To be honest, I don't think he had any idea how much he was loved until he got sick.
On Thursday, as I was preparing to leave him to come back home for a few weeks to catch up on some work that couldn't be put off, I couldn't stop crying. I told him over and over again that it wasn't because of his condition, it was because I had to leave him for a few weeks. He said he understood. I believe that he did. I also believe that he knew his time on earth was nearing an end.
He kept telling me how much he loved me and of course I responded in kind. I told him he was my best friend and he looked at me with those big beautiful blue eyes of his and told me that I was his. His last words to me were, "I love you so much" to which I responded, "I love you so much too". I really didn't think it would be the last words I'd ever say to him.
Through all of this, through every setback and every bad day, I believed that he would survive. My faith never wavered. My dearest friends told me in many gentle ways to prepare myself for the possibility that he wouldn't survive, but in all honesty, I wouldn't or couldn't let my mind go there for fear that letting any doubt in would be evident in my interactions with Dale. I wanted nothing but positivity surrounding him.
I can't help but wish I had stayed.
My son has updated his blog with a heartfelt post about Dale. During the last several months, Dale and Nels (Wolf) have become extremely close. In fact Dale often told me that if he could have chosen a son, he'd have chosen Nels. The feeling was mutual. Dale had become the father my son had never really had. Wolf is broken hearted over Dale's passing and I'd appreciate it if you'd read the post and leave a comment if you are so inclined.
Thank you all for being there for us.
We love you.