At 9:30 this morning Rick Marx passed away. It is sad to see a good friend leave this world but what a comfort it is to know that it is only for a short time. Well, I guess it doesn’t seem that short but that is what makes it so difficult. Lisa and I went to see him and Kathy on Saturday and then again yesterday. I’m really glad we did.
Kathy texted Lisa right away and told her that they would be doing a "Salute" for Rick at 11:30. We had no idea what that was but we both wanted to participate and support Kathy so we left work and headed right over.
The salute was pretty special. They had us all leave Ricks room and they put him on a stretcher, draped him in the American flag and then a fellow from the Veterans Association stood in the hall and rang a small bell. Two orderlies slowly wheeled him into the hallway while the VA guy loudly announced Ricks name and rank and his branch of service and other stuff. It was very solemn and almost spiritual.
What made it even more special is that Rick volunteered with the VA and this fellow remembered working with him. He even told Kathy that Rick kept a picture of her on his desk and that he obviously loved her.
Lisa and I first met Rick roughly ten years ago. We went out for dinner on a double date and I’ve loved Rick ever since that first day so long ago. It is hard for me to judge time but it must have been three or four years ago that Rick went to see his doctor about a pain in his hips. He thought he must have pulled a muscle or something like that. He’d always been a very healthy man and worked out regularly. Imagine our surprise when we learned he had stage four cancer in his bones and he was given less than a year to live. Rick received many blessings and some of his blessings told him that it was not his time yet and he still had work to do here on earth.
Rick has used that time well and helped a LOT of people in that time. Perhaps most importantly he helped his son Doug go through some very tough times. After giving his son some much needed support it was appropriate to see Doug by his dads bedside during his last days on this earth.
Rick had many ups and downs since that first diagnosis. He went through a few rounds of chemotherapy and at one point he was on deaths door. He pulled through and recovered to the point that he was cancer free. I remember one day in the chapel just before church started I was playing “Clash of Clans” with my kids. They had created a clan in this game that is played on smart phones and we would fight daily battles against other clans. It was a good game for me because it didn’t need to take more than ten minutes a day and yet it kept me in daily contact with my kids. It was fun and our clan at its max grew to about 50 people, all of whom were close friends or family. We grew to be a true "Clan" and while we lived all over the content and many of us had never met we were "family".
At this point Rick was going through a very tough spell in his fight against cancer and spent most of his day sitting around his house dwelling on his problems. I suggested he join the clan and “Rick the Rock” was born. The game was perfect for him and he was instantly thrown into a family of fifty or more members. Everyone loved Rick and it gave him something else to think about other than his own problems.
In time the clan went the way of everything else in this life but Rick was now left with a new group of friends. After years of great health, Ricks cancer finally returned and he declined quickly. The last week or two have been very painful for Rick and last week he was finally taken to the hospital. Ricks son Doug arrived last week and him and Kathy have spent nearly every hour since at Ricks side.
Losing a loved one is hard enough even when we know that they are in a better place and that we will eventually join them. I can't even imagine what it would be like without that knowledge. Rick, I am a better man for having known you.