Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August, 2006; at the time, he and his wife had a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old and a 3-month-old baby. Pancreatic cancer has a 4% 5-year survival rate, and Randy lasted two years through sheer will and perseverance and willingness to try any treatment possible. He kept a blog detailing his health status. Its last entry was last night written by an anonymous friend saying that Randy had entered hospice. Less than an hour ago, Diane Sawyer announced on Good Morning America that Randy had passed away last night. He was 47 years old.
More information about him.
You may have seen or heard this already today, or even just remember a mention of him from my turning 26 list. Ever since I watched his Last Lecture I tried not to have any hope that he himself would survive this terrible disease. Instead I tried to think of him as the strongest supporter for his cause being the thing that will really survive about him - plus his winning personality. I really enjoyed him. And the fact of it isn't some grand thing he was doing for people (it was probably a nice bonus) but only that he tried so hard at whatever he was doing with his remaining time, for his children. This is some terrible news to sit and have your morning coffee thinking of.
I suppose on an extra personal level I'm also so sad he didn't somehow defy the odds on making it through all this - although he lasted far longer than he should have, and that is a success too. Still the fairness police in you (i.e. me) thinks he should have. He reminds me so much of someone that I knew who was probably the hardest person to let go when they passed away - just about this time of year too, albeit 9 years ago. My Dad's high school friend Eric, and Randy, had almost the same personality (goodness he made the WORST puns, all the time though) and was far too intelligent to really ever know what he was thinking about. The difference is that Eric died as a result of a car/truck collision, so he never really knew that his last few months on the planet he spent every night teaching me summer school math courses so I could sign up next year for Calculus. Ya me, ya Calculus. What a waste of time... a waste, of time. The second week of Calculus, and after I got accepted to U of T for their Commerce program - I decided hey, I don't really want to do any of this! And re-applied for English at Mac. So I literally wasted his time - it's all I could think about even though it was the right decision for me. I know he would have done so many things if he knew life was nearly done. Really he was a super interesting guy, just a month previously he went and bought himself a huge $500 African drum and set up a room to learn to jam. He and my dad also went out pick out a bike for him around that time, summertime - and he's one of the few adults I ever saw buy a helmet for themselves. I recall exactly how he was telling me if anything ever happened, that is the only thing he needed to stay safe. He was right because that's what ended up killing him - he hit his head and was basically brain dead, and there was no point in keeping him alive. Sure, I was immature at the time (and stayed that way for quite a while) so all I could think of with my dad in the police car home that night is - I wish everyone on the street was dead and could take his place. If he could come back though, right now, I might even still wish someone dead. Someone who would never use their life whatsoever, spend it on welfare, just a waste of skin who sits there and does nothing but age. That's just the fairness talking and I'm truly sorry anyone ever taught me in life things were fair. Sometimes things just happen.
I'm a bad griever, really, I'm bad at it. I'm bad at losing things. I'm bad at accepting unfulfilled plans - why is that happening? i.e. that it's not fair it's not fair sort of thing. We made a trip over to Eric's apartment that week to get his cat and other personal things my Dad wanted to remember him by, books and whatnot - I caught a glimpse of some pants he had laid out in the bathroom to wear the next day. That pretty much did it, broke my heart; and although all scars get smoother and smoother through time - that image in my mind raises all the edges up momentarily, so that they can even be felt on the outside of my chest it seems.
The thing that gets me, personally of course - as is this site is with apologies, is really this unique situation. Randy really lived his life, and in the end, learned also how to put his pants away (so to speak) so beautifully. I think I'll spend my whole life learning how to do that, and hopefully, have a sense of humor about it.
"Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted." — from The Last Lecture