Sometime in early December 2008...I was sitting at work...like I do everyday...im'ing with Richard...like I did everyday. It was this day Richard told me he was gonna run over to Urgent Care over lunch. His tummy was acting funny..."prolly just an ulcer" he said. So we went about our normal chit-chat. He said bye and headed to the doctor. About 10 minutes later my phone rang...Richard...Urgent Care is closed for lunch...entertain him while he waits. So he and I were talking and laughing in true Richard/Allie style. That boy could make me laugh like no one else. He was my Dickard. I was his Greshman.
|Us - July 2007|
Did I tell you we became instant friends in May 1999. We both worked together in the Computer department of the Best Buy in Athens, GA. And we both went to UGA. I was the first friend he made in Athens. He reminded me of that all the time. To remind me how special I was to him. We had an up and down friendship. We were besties...then...I liked him...he liked me...our timing never matched up. When I left Athens things between us were rough. He had told me he loved me and I had a boyfriend. Who was an asshole. Oh Scott. I hate you. Anyway...I digress. So a few years went by and somehow we ended up reconnecting. And back to besties we were. I always loved Richard. He was that guy that I always loved. He always loved me too. No matter who we dated or what happened. That constant seemed to be there. We never dated. Not once.
Back to December 2008. Urgent Care. He saw the doctors. They ran tests. And when they were done...he immediately called me...the tests came back abnormal. What?! What does that even mean? He was being sent to a gastro-doctor. I will never forget before his colonoscopy. He had to do a bowl prep. I have definitely had to do one of those too. We giggled about it all day long. I made him text me updates on the number of times he ran to the potty. It was really funny to us. Hey whatever gets us through the crap right? Ha I said crap! Ok really...
Anyway...he had the test. And more tests. And I am fuzzy on the order of things. Then he called me. "Allison...they think I have colon cancer..." "No. Not possible. You are 32 years old...." Then they told him he had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Like a second before Christmas. Heart breaking. I can't even tell you. That phone call. I can't even think about that.
He got good news. Stage 1A. Best possible scenario - for cancer that is. He started chemo. The really horrible kind. Adriamycin (the red devil drug) / Cytoxan. I only know how truly horrible it is because I did 4 rounds of the same kind of chemo. It's pure hell. This is the chemo that makes you wish you were dead. I am not kidding. Not one bit.
In mid-February we got horrible news. He didn't have Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He has Burkitt's Lymphoma. DOCTOR FAIL!!! He needed a different treatment all together. And he had lost precious time. Things got bad. Then they got a little better. Then in June 2009 he took a turn for the worst. It seemed that everything that could go wrong, went wrong. Like if he had a 1% chance of something happening...it happened. He spent all his time at Emory. It was just horrible.
Then...the beginning of July...I found my tumor. What?! He has cancer and I have a tumor...Didn't seem possible. Except it was. He and I talked a lot in between me finding my tumor and getting diagnosed. He was so sick when I found out that I had to tell him via text. So there we were. Both of us. Fighting. Together. We were going to win together. I knew it. I saw him almost every time I was at Emory those first 2 months. The day of my first chemo...we both had chemo...together. He sat directly across from me. He saved me that day.
|Emory...My 1st day of Chemo - July 24, 2009|
Those first two months were harder than anything I had ever dealt with in my life. But I had Richard. I had my Dickard. And I believed that we would be okay. I thought...this has happened for a reason...I don't know why we are both sick together...but Richard and I...we will figure it out...together.
September 15, 2009...my phone rang...it was Ken...Ricahrd's Dad. Ken and I had become VERY close over those 2 months. He was my buddy!
|Ken and Me - Chemo #3 - Richard took this picture!|
So...my phone rang...and when I saw it was Ken...I knew it was going to be bad...I knew it. Richard had been getting much worse over the past month or so. And I just knew it was going to be bad news. It was. I needed to get to Emory that day. Richard had been given maybe 3 days to live. The cancer was in his blood. I wasn't ready for this. No one was. Because he was 32. Because he was Stage 1A (I was 2A). Because cancer couldn't beat him. Because how was I suppose to go on without him.
Emory. That evening. 5 hours of being there. Sitting in the room with him and his family and friends. Watching him sleep. He never spoke. I saw my friend. My best friend. Who was so alive and happy and amazing before the cancer. He did MMA...he was my Ninja...taught MMA to kids...was the singer for a local Metal band...he was smart...and funny...and loved life. Now he was this skinny, cancer filled person who looked nothing like the Richard I knew. Seeing him like that was hell.
Saying goodbye. How do you say goodbye without actually saying goodbye. It's hard people. I held his hand and rubbed his arm...and said over and over again...I love you Richard...I love you...with tears in my eyes but showing no fear. His mom was on one side of him and I was on the other. Remember he hadn't moved or spoken the entire time I was there to anyone. While I was holding him...He grabbed my arm and held on and muttered something...his mom leaned down to hear him and he said I love you too. I love you too as he was holding my arm. Til he lost his strength and had to let go. This was one of the most special moments of my life. I left Emory and never saw him again. He passed away at 4 pm the next day...September 16, 2010. He didn't even live 24 hours after they told his family he had 3 days. I was the first person his father called to tell he had passed. I sobbed so loudly I had to leave work. I was shaken and raw and a total mess. And I had chemo the very next morning. My parents drove me the 2 hours to his visitation and my two friends and I made the drive for his funeral. I was to sick to actually do any of the driving. But I was there. To honor my friend. I love him so very much.
Going on...being at Emory...fighting cancer...alone...without him...was nearly impossible for me. It was actually a contradiction for me. Because it was impossible going on alone. And I also fought twice as hard for us both.
I am still very close with his family. His parents mean everything to me. I am so grateful I have them in my life.
|Ken, Betty, and Me - February 2010|
I have dreamed about Richard only 3 times since he passed. They have all happened the same way. You know that moment right before you wake up where you are asleep but not really...All of my dreams have been then...very short...all the same message...he loves me...and then I wake up...I sit straight up in bed like I heard a gun go off. I get teary...I miss him...and then I feel so very blessed that I had that fleeting moment with him again. And that happened to me this morning. And that's why I am sharing this with you today.
One last thing to share...I took this picture of my Richard on September 16, 2009. We had one of our famous lunch dates. It was meant as a joke for our friend Brian and was taken as we were walking out of the mall. It was pointed out to me after he passed away that this picture was taken exactly one year before he passed...
|Richard - September 16, 2009|
I carry this man in my heart. I always will. Having cancer was the hardest thing I have ever been through. But I find a lot of comfort knowing how close Richard and I were his last two months. He use to say to me things like...remember that time we were at whatever place...had you told me we would end up both having cancer I would have slapped you and yelled liar. I miss you my Dickard!
RIP Richard Thomas Kannady
October 18, 1976 - September 16, 2009
|Richard and Me - Summer 2000|
|My Graduation from UGA - May 2000|
Hold you loved ones tight...life can change in an instant. And don't I know it.