Last Wednesday we said our goodbyes to a legendary hero and warrior and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. I first wrote a blog post about Doug Aikins in February when he was rushed to the hospital emergency department http://danielstandrews.com/2014/02/21/and-the-gold-medal-goes-to/ . Joy W. a very close friend of Doug and the owner of the dogs that Doug took to the Cancer Centre had sent me an email advising that Doug’s cancer had returned and he was in a lot of pain. I drove to the hospital that same day and visited with him in the emergency department. Although he was in a lot of pain, he still managed to smile when he saw me and we shook hands. Doug told me that he had a kidney removed 3 years ago and had hoped that he was cancer-free but that dream was shattered when they told him that he now had bone cancer. His dear wife had passed 1 1/2 years ago and as though that wasn’t enough pain and heartache, Joy’s dog Captain who had been visiting the Cancer Centre with either Doug or Joy for over 8 years had passed with bone cancer last year. Doug told me that he hoped that he would have another 5 years but then he smiled and said that if not, at least he, his wife and Captain would be together again.
Over the next several weeks Doug’s condition worsened and he was moved from the Palliative Care Floor at Surrey Memorial Hospital to the Laural Place Hospice across the street. I continued to visit Doug up until he was no longer to able to remain awake during my visits. The last thing I told him was that everyone at the Cancer Centre missed him very much and sent their love and hugs. We shook hands and I left his room. On the drive home the sky started to cry.
A week or so later, Joy sent word that Doug had passed. I cried at the news. And so did a couple of hundred other people whose lives were touched by this gentle giant of a man. And so did Sam and Mikey, the dogs that Doug loved so much.
At Doug’s funeral service, there seated in the aisle was Sam and another dog, whose name I can’t remember. Here are the photos I took of them:
And as I was leaving the funeral home, I thought of the funeral I’d attended for the 12-year-old girl who was killed in early 2009. She was from the First Nation and it was a traditional funeral – which I found to be very moving. On my way out of that funeral service I heard the distraught scream of her mother. “Look, there she is!” she cried, while pointing to the sky. And there in the sky, circling high above us was a lone Bald Eagle. Soon everyone was staring at the Eagle – which I was told was her spirit showing us that she was now free. ‘What a wonderful moment’, I thought.
And so as I walked to my car in the parking lot, I glanced skyward…
Dedicated to Joy W., Sam, Mikey and Captain