I got to know him fairly well as I treated him a good bit in our hyperbaric unit. I never saw him that he did not smile and say, "So, how's your boy doing?" He would ask about Sam often and wanted to hear what he was up to. Many times, he was really down, and I'd try to find a way to brighten his mood and let him know we were in his corner. His niece faithfully brought him to his appointments, and I got to know her too. He ended up with a wound to the left foot, but with diligent care, we got that wound healed and we had not seen him since June. He was up on his prosthesis using a walker, and we'd heard he was going to be put on a transplant list.
I went to the funeral home yesterday to pay my respects. As I walked into the chapel, the family was seated facing his casket, and everyone had their heads bowed. I saw shoulders shake and tissues dabbing cheeks as instrumental hymns played overhead. There he was, in the company of all those who loved him, mourning his passing. I closed my eyes, hearing the grief in the room, and all I could do was ask that I might absorb some of their pain and sadness and carry it for them as they get through the next days and weeks. So young, and such a kind spirit. God speed Joe...
"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more,
neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore,
for the former things have passed away."