Rick had been ill for years, and towards the end it became easier to list what wasn't failing. He was dying. We knew. He knew.
February 23, 2010, was Rick's 62nd birthday, and I drove to Northwest Indiana, to see him in the hospital, and tell him goodbye.
In February 2010, I was pregnant and had recently found out our second child would be a boy. Rick was excited for us, when he was lucid. We both knew he would not live to meet the baby in person.
In April 2010, Rick was sent home, for hospice care. He passed within days. He spent those days helping to plan his funeral, when he was aware. I like to think this helped my Mom. I don't really know if it did.
He had a few requests. Rick wanted to be buried in his leather jacket. A smoker most of his life, he wanted a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. He wanted a "Big Gulp", at the viewing. He also picked some songs. He chose one in particular, to play at the end. That's where Mom had a surprise too.
At the conclusion of Rick's funeral, he requested that "Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox" play. And Mom unveiled a picture she had commissioned.
This one. It definitely captures my Stepdad, and his personality. We grieved for him long before he passed. His sickness took him away bit by bit, sometimes literally.
Usually I try to remember the fun, but his birthday is always a hard one for me. He Would have celebrated the twenty-eighth anniversary of his thirty-ninth birthday today.