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Life is very fragile… and so precious!

As stated in my last post, I am taking a bit of a break from technical writing as I am spending (what little) time (is left) with my best friend Tim J. Locke. As most things in life, time wins and we must accept our destiny that one day we will share the same fate and that is death. Tonight, I write this article with a heavy heart; since it is clear that I only have days with him. Talking with the hospice care, we doubt that he will ever wake up again and to make matters worse, his skin is turning yellow and gray from his liver shutting down. I read a book a few days ago called Making the most of the time we have: Caring for a loved one at life’s end.

It describes some of the symptoms as the body starts to shut down and let go of its gripe on life. Here is the stage that we are currently at right now:

Days Before Death:

  • Decreased intake of food and fluids
  • Dry mouth
  • Restlessness
  • Labored breathing
  • Fever
  • Darker urine; reduce output

This is a very tough process to watch when it goes so slowly. You see the person you know slowly turn into someone who is not the same person you first met. They start to deal with a loss of appetite  fatigue and restlessness. It is almost as if the body knows it needs to prepare for a journey and they start trying to go somewhere and anywhere. You see their thoughts go all over the place and then you start to see how the body begins to slip away. The only true blessing that you have is that you had a chance to make peace with him and let them know how much he meant to you.

In the end, it is weird how simple life becomes for someone and how all the things you chose to achieve in life is pushed aside. As an adult, you worry about finding a good job, a place to live, food in your stomach and then as that becomes easier to obtain, then you start to focus on a nicer car, a home of your own and a person to love. It is never-ending series of pursuits to make your life feel more enriched during this ride of life.

In the last few months of your life, your focus changes drastically in what you seek. You want to resolve any past conflicts; you want people to know how much they meant to you, if you have family you want to ensure they are taken care of financially. I was very fortunate (and thankful) to tell Tim how much of a better person I became and because of him.

Sadly, the last remaining weeks of a person’s life is really simple. Goals are to eat and drink, plus keep it down. You also hope for bowel movements to rid the body of toxins, but as the weeks pass, the body is less capable of performing those simple tasks. Then it becomes a battle to keep the person calm and reassured, since the mind is now dealing with less blood flow and battling toxins that should have been flushed from the system.

The last part that we are dealing with now is to reassure him and tell him everything is fine, in hopes that his brain will relax and allow him to end the suffering. Sad as it may seem, we are hoping that he will let go, even though we do not want to see him leave us. We know it is time and we want him to be at peace. I get the sense that he has stayed on this long because he is very worried about how his children will be during their adulthood. He loved them very much and he really wished he could stay around longer to help them with words of wisdom as they become adults.

I met Tim J. Locke five years ago in Las Vegas, while working for a casino gaming company that is well-known for making slot machines. Looking back, I am amazed how fast the time flew by and it just goes to show you that each decade that passes, the faster the next one seems to go by. If those 5 years flew by, imagine how fast this past year went by when we found out that he had stage 4 kidney cancer.

It just seems like yesterday, that we were both working in Las Vegas, drinking and griping about how frustrating the job was and next thing I know I offered him a ride to the airport. The economy had just crashed and I knew that parking your car was expensive. Before I knew it, we become roommates and I will never forget the time he moved in. My dog Foxy Brown (5 months old min-pin) pooped from his room all the way down the hallway. What a great way to start a friendship! It seems that my dog and Tim would always be at odds from that point onward. For example, one day as he was taking a shower and I had already left for work. My dog had barged into his bathroom and started ramming the glass door with her head, trying to get in the shower with him. He was so freaked out that he almost slipped and fell in the shower. He had a dog, but it was a low energy breed (Pug) and he was not ready for a high energy breed, especially as a puppy.

Quickly over time, he became my best friend and we would take trips to his home in San Diego. We used it as an excuse to leave Las Vegas I would meet his mother, all four of his brothers and sisters. I would then meet his 2 daughters, his son and his wife. (I will always cherish how she made both of us feel when she came to visit us and went grocery shopping!) Somewhere along the way, I became family and it became an annual event to spend time with them over the fourth of July. It is amazing to look back and see how this friendship has evolved. I can truly say that I have been blessed to have known him. He was always supportive of me and encouraged me to pursue my dreams, plus he always had great advice as I navigated through life. He was the person I always longed to hear from and I could never wait until we spoke again.

As I watch him start to pass away, I become quickly overwhelmed by emotions, knowing that he is in a deep sleep with very little chance of waking up. I am however thankful for letting him know many times beforehand that I loved him. In the end, I think that is really all that matters is let others know how much they mean to us and even more important is to make an effort to make a difference to the people we meet along this journey. We are not here forever and the biggest reward in life is when you make a difference in others, because it is what truly makes us happy.

I believe in God and was raised a Christian. I know some people look at religion and have their doubts. I know some people look at the Bible as a book of rules that tell you what you can and can’t do. Sadly, I think a lot of people overlook a more important lesson, the ability to love other people. It is written all over the place and if you know Jesus’ journeys, it was all about the people he met, plus the actions he took to make a difference. He healed a lot of people, he spoke with a lot of people, and he passed on a lot of guidance. He also did not care about social statuses of people and he crossed all boundaries. He saw the rich as well as the poor. I am not sure why so many people fail to see that important teaching, but I wonder if that is why we see so many people unhappy today. I look at the recent violence in all places of the world and I wonder how many people feel left out and isolated to the point that they blindly start killing others. (i.e. like we just saw earlier this week with the Boston Marathon.) I wonder what a difference it would have made if we took time to get them know them and accept them as they are, instead of trying to mode them as we want.

I hope and wish that more people find that simple truth. Life is short and you should live it with no regrets. Stop focusing on what you do not have and start focusing on what you do have, then remind yourself how blessed you are with what you have today. Do not get so caught up in what you are pursuing that you forget what you have around you. It sucks to be taken for granted. Last but not least, do not doubt the power you have as a person to make a difference in someone you meet. You never know when you might have said hello to someone who was at the last bit of strength to continue and your act of kindness inspired them to keep fighting onward.

No matter what you believe, I want to say God bless you and I hope you will find the happiness that you really deserve in life. I hope you find some people in this life and make a difference for them by your actions.

10 Responses to “Life is very fragile… and so precious!”

  1. Darren Ashworth #

    Thanks for the reminder that life is short, and to cherish those around us.

    April 23, 2013 at 12:37 PM
  2. I just found out from a recruiter I was speaking to that Tim had died this previous weekend. I had not seen him since I left LPL in 2007, he was my boss at the time my contract ended and I left LPL. Tim was a great boss and a great guy, I am saddened at the situation and at having found out too late to send him any message personally. I am glad he had good friends and was not alone.
    thank you for sharing.
    Jen

    May 1, 2013 at 11:57 AM
  3. Medha Parlikar #

    Hi Scott,

    Tim and I were good friends from his WebSideStory days. I can see why now that he has been weighing in my mind so heavily these past few weeks. I was out of the country the past week, and missed the news of his passing. Indeed, he was a great guy, despite himself – LOL – I recollect when we worked together I would catch him furiously chicken pecking at his keyboard with his index fingers (since he never really learned how to type – and that was fine by him..) As rough as he could be on the outside – at the core he was very good at heart. I will really miss him. Thanks for the nice blog posts – and putting up your eulogy to him – as I was unable to attend his service.

    Best –
    Medha

    May 9, 2013 at 1:58 PM
    • Scott Mattie #

      You are very welcome Medha and I am glad more people have the same memory of him.

      May 9, 2013 at 4:00 PM
  4. Anthony Sabri #

    Hi Scott,

    I just learned about Tim’s passing this morning from a friend. Actually, I believe he found out about it from the El Cap memorial page on Facebook. Tim and I were best friends in high school and the early years of college. We were inseparable in those days. It was only as we grew into adults and Tim married Leah & moved to Arizona (I believe) that we lost touch with each other. The friends that I had, and therefore Tim as well, from high school days are still in my life. We often ask ourselves what happened to Tim? This was not the answer I wanted to hear.
    Your two blogs on Tim were nice. I only wish I knew more about Tim, Leah, and the kids in the later years and I wish I had been by his side at the end. I haven’t seen him in years, decades, but I loved him dearly.
    I don’t know if he ever shared stories from his youth, like the Ford Pinto he drove and our trials & tribulations with that thing? The pet piranha his brother gave him, feeding time, and then what to do with it as it got bigger and more voracious? LOL
    We had some good times. I have missed him over the years, and I miss him more know.
    Whatever info you have on his family that you can share, I would greatly appreciate it. If nothing else, I can give you my info for the family to contact me.

    October 9, 2013 at 8:57 AM
    • Scott Mattie #

      I will send you an email later after I reach out to his family. 🙂

      October 9, 2013 at 5:04 PM

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