764 Days

At the end of September I wrote about Gus and Maranna going back to India to face and tackle the cancer diagnoses that Gus had been given. As they boarded the plane, I sent them a text expressing how sad I was that they would no longer be a semi-short plane ride away. I included a prayer for the help and guidance to get through this next challenge and these words that came to me as I was feeling through all of the emotions:

As the distance between us increases, I will remind myself:
When my eyes cannot see you, my heart still will
When my ears cannot hear you, my mind still will
When my arms cannot reach you, my prayers still will

Typical of Gus, he was positive in attitude towards the treatment and prognosis. I tried sending a card each week with some of the artwork that I had pulled out of the kids doodling books and sheets from school, but after 9 weeks of sending cards and only one being received, I gave that up. I had updates from Yolekha, Lara and Adrian in a shared chat with them and conversations with Maranna and Gus from a separate shared chat, so while I didn’t feel out of the loop, I did wish that I could be there for support.

I knew in reality that they had all the support that was needed right there and had loads of people who would jump through hoops to do anything for them. One of the things that I had learned in becoming friends with the family, is that whenever possible, Gus and Maranna were changers of lives. There are countless stories of how they changed peoples lives: through personal interactions and giving of time, education or money: through the volunteer work in agencies they supported: through their daily lives of openness and kindness.

At the beginning of December – Midway through the progressively grueling first two months of chemo treatments, the doctors performed another pet scan to see the effectiveness of the chemical cocktails. The news was brutal: the chemo had done very little or nothing at all in stopping the cancer’s progression. The teams – medical and family – huddled back up and called upon a new strategy. Word was: if he responded to new treatment, he might get six or more months to live, otherwise it would likely be around three months. It was surreal and heartbreaking.

An example of Gus’s dedication to making this world a better place: the day that he was to be admitted into the hospital to start the new treatment, he paused to complete some work he had started for one of the foundations he was helping out. I think Henry David Thoreau would have said this quote about Gus:

Gus finished the project and went into the hospital and the bottom dropped out further. Every procedure they seemed to do caused a negative ripple effect. Gus was sent into ICU, would stabilize enough for hope that he would get to go home for the holidays, only to have another crisis arise sending him back to the ICU. By the end of December, everyone was just desperate to get Gus home to where he would be surrounded by the generations of love that might be the only miracle drug left at their disposal. They didn’t get him home for Christmas, but they did take him home just after the new year on 01/03/24. It was a blessing to all to have everyone together.

Gus lost his battle on 01/06/2024. Barely over three months from the initial diagnosis. 764 days after Ted died. Two years, One month and Three days. That is how long the universe took to rotate and bring back into full view the painful time of seeing a loved one go from healthy, to a battle that they were unable to win. The loss of Gus was different, yet so eerily similar that it cracked my heart back open anew. It stirred up all of the emotions and even had me feeling the remnants of emotions that each generation of the family was feeling. It brought back the ache and the feelings of missing. Missing the person. Missing the connection. Missing out of future memories.

Ted was not the traveler that I am. He wanted to know what his personal space and bathroom would be like before going anywhere and there were many places he would never consider going to. India was one of those places he had placed onto the list of not wanting to travel to. He had heard stories of India’s crowds and people sometimes not having the same issues of concern for a bathroom that he did, yet, when he met Gus and Maranna, he pledged that he was willing to put away those concerns to go to India to see them. Top to bottom, they are a family that we both loved right off the bat.

Many of us wrote something to put into a memory book about Gus. I may as well share mine.

“Gus’s journey in the past few months cracked open my heart to so many emotions. I would find myself crying at one side and then memories with him would flush through and have me smiling: remembrance of our first meeting and Gus handing Amara over to me so willingly for my first cuddles with her. Our visits both in Seattle and in our home in Colorado and him commandeering the kitchen wherever he was. Gus and Maranna both singing John Denver songs at the gift shop of Red Rocks Amphitheater. His first sledding experience in our yard – albeit a very short run built more for Amara- but his joyfulness and adventurous spirit emanating as he too sledded down the hill. The candid and honest conversations of life that we would have driving in the car or around the kitchen table. Gus’s curiosity in life and the continual willingness to grow and change with it always inspired me to emulate.
It was evident to me that Gus had an impact on this world which was vast and deep and with the kindness and love that we can all only strive to mirror. I am so thankful that I have gotten to know him so that I have my own stories to share of the legendary life he had. I am incredibly grateful for his sharing of himself and his family with me.
I lack further words to express all that is in my heart, but you can count me as just one more person in his life who loved him.”

Recently, Maranna shared with me a letter she wrote to Gus as she deals with her grief. With her permission, I will also share with you as it is a prayerful poem that touches upon what many of us feel as we lose a spouse.

“My Love,
Enjoy being in that land of freedom and song…
I struggle without you as I travel on.
In this overpowering void I know you’re there..
In my heart, mind, soul..almost everywhere!
In dreams you hold me and whisper near,
To remind,prompt,assure,p’raps wipe a tear;
And Life sweeps up and presses on…
Disguised in Smile and Bustle, the ache’s long drawn.
Tears moisten the eyes but drop from the nose..
A weariness travels through, right down to my toes.
A dry sob camouflaged emerges a sneeze…
I resist being the wet blanket
In surrounding sunshine and breeze.
Even as a warm blanket of love,care and thoughtfulness spreads,
I’m grateful and lucky…..makes my path easier to tread.
Rest easy my Gus..I love you.❤️”

In loving memory Augustus (Gus) Mallier


2 thoughts on “764 Days

  1. So sad, so beautiful. This post brought me to tears, Sally. Thank you for sharing this beauty with us. Much love. ❤️

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