Sunday, December 21, 2008

Stef Tarapchak

Tyler continues to get stronger. Tomorrow we begin 2 days of testing as we reach the critical milestone of 6 months in remission. Sometimes those long dark nights in the hospital seem like they were 100 years ago, other times it feels like just yesterday.

During this battle we have had an unbelievable amount of support. However there have been just a few who's support has been a true foundation to our survival. Stef Tarapchak is one of those people. He was constantly coming up to encourage to Tyler and talk sports. He was one of the first to request one of Tyler's "Fight to Win" Shirts. Stef brought one of his own t-shirts for his personal fight with colon cancer -- "Refuse to Lose".

Stef connected with Tyler because of his cancer, and with me because he is a father realizing cancer had the power to separate him for his children. But almost never was there talk of cancer. It is amazing the amount of communication that can happen without talking. It is a feeling that comes just from being around a person who understands. You can talk about sports, tell jokes, do about anything. Through it all, you can feel his heart communicating, "I know".

It's like when A.J.'s dad and aunt flew to Texas to see Tyler and I as we sat in the waiting room at MD Anderson Cancer Hospital. They came for a quick visit, just to communicate, without out saying a thing, "I know". I don't even remember what was said, but so much was communicated.

The core of Stef's attitude seems to be a deep faith in Christ that gives him a remarkable combination. He has the most incredible fight to live, coupled with absolutely no fear of what death brings. The result is an incredibly positive attitude that effects everyone he is around. With compete confidence he gives everything he has to give, refusing to accept anything less. Refusing to lose.

I guess at the end of the day, this life is less about the distance you have traveled. It is more about how you traveled, and the lives you have impacted on that journey. And, when the journey ends, is the world better because you were here. As Mark Twain said, the world owes us nothing. We owe the world. It was here first.

Stef has impacted a lot of people. I can honestly say that some of his comments got me through some long nights when I thought I was about to lose my mind. He is a true friend.

Last night, shortly after midnight, Stef passed away. He leaves his wife, Sandy, and three young children. Please keep them in your prayers.

He leaves this world a much better place for having been here. Until we meet again...

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.
--Dr. Seuss

No comments: