This from my friend Karen about a dear friend.
"His real name doesn’t matter as he was called Cat from almost his first steps. He was nimble and very light on his feet and, like a cat, he was often found on the roof, up a tree or sitting on the fireplace mantle. He was extraordinarily good looking – the kind of looks that made you turn back for a second look, but he didn’t seem to know it.
He got his masters and had almost completed his PhD. The remarkable thing about this accomplishment is that he worked full time and paid for his schooling as he went – determined not to start a career deeply in debt. He always said it might take a little longer, but he thought it was worth it. He played baseball with his firm team, loved mountain biking and was an avid skier. He had a ready laugh and if anyone had trouble or was in need of something, you can bet Cat would be one of the first at their door to help. He had just gotten engaged this past summer to a woman as beautiful as he was handsome. His seemed to be a fairy tale life.
He smoked, but not much as he would always say – less than a pack a month. He said many times, especially as he watched me suffer through the early days of my quit – that his next goal after his doctorate was to quit smoking (and always added so I’d quit nagging him about it).
Less than 3 months ago, he was getting winded, tired easily and had a dry cough. When it didn’t go away, he saw a doctor. Lung cancer, stage IV. How could this be? He was almost 36 years old and really didn’t smoke much. I spent this past week at the hospital with his mother. The handsome Cat was now a living skeleton, skin stretched taunt over his face. He slept a lot, but when awake said he hated to say it, but he would really like a cigarette – and added what could it hurt at this point. I suppose if he had really wanted one, someone would have wheeled him outside – as he said, what could it hurt at this point.
By yesterday, he was no longer talking much. The hardest part was he would look us in the eye and then look toward the machines. We knew he was trying to tell us to turn them off. But they were off. All he was getting was pain medication. He was sleeping and I slipped out to the hospital chapel, and met his mother coming out. I think we were both praying that God would take him soon.
When we returned to his room, he was worse. He was drowning. If you have watched the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_Rei-oOIM0 you will have an idea of what we watched. Only I will tell you that it is 100 times worse when you are in the room with it. And you hear the sound of that breathing for a long time after it stops. One of the last things he said to me was, “Tell your forum that I finally stopped smoking – and tell them how.”