Paul is gone. My longstanding cystic buddy. He was at the brink so many times and was able to right himself by force of sheer will, I honestly believed he would do it again this time. He had more lives than 10 cats. He was a cat. A cool cat. He hated water, being touched and was a finicky eater. In the end, though, he was just as human as the rest of us and had finally had enough. He went the way he wanted to: in the comfort of his home, in his favorite easy chair, with his devoted mother by his side.
How do you capture a person's essence with mere words? Paul could. Paul would have. I can't do it. He was a very caring person, at times confused by human relationships and interaction, but that never deterred him. He never stopped reaching out. He was an amazing support and teacher to those in the CF community, often contacting people privately to shed light on a question they asked. He had an amazingly quick wit, was able to find humor in almost any situation and made puns that I sometimes didn't figure out for days. He was one of the most intelligent people I've ever encountered yet never talked down to people. He had the gift of being a natural teacher and no topic was beyond his grasp. I often teased him that if it was physically possible, he would have been able to perform his own double lung transplant, he had researched it so thoroughly.
Another friend said it well: this is the end of an era. Paul was a fixture online, often holding court in the CF2 chatroom, entertaining everyone with his witty banter and offering support to those who needed it. I really can't believe he's gone and probably won't for quite some time.
The biggest burden of CF, for me at least, is not the daily treatments, the hospitalizations or even feeling sick, listless and short of breath; it's saying goodbye to those we meet along the way who touch us profoundly and become part of us through our association.
'Bye, Paul. I hope you know how many people loved you deeply and how many lives you touched. Thanks for being my friend and meeting me at the Terminal; I'll treasure that memory always.