My brother Paul passed away earlier this month at his home in North Bend, Washington. He was 57.
Paul was my big brother. When I was little, he was the cool teenager—riding a moped and later a motorcycle, bringing girls over to the house, building stuff (and blowing up stuff) in his shop in the garage, excelling at school. I was 10 when he left home to go to McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. (He got into MIT but very few Canadians sent their kids to expensive American schools in those days—or even in these days. In fact, I sent my daughter who grew up here in the US back to Canada for university.) After he graduated from the University of Waterloo, he moved to the US to work for a then-small company called Microsoft.
Paul had a wonderful, amazing life. He loved his work as a software engineer. He made piles of money during the dot-com boom. He drove fast cars. He enjoyed skydiving. He paraglided after work every day for years. He loved love as well and married three times (one, two, three!). He had the risk-taking gene that completely skipped over me.
In 2012, we learned that Paul had developed malignant melanoma. Doctors tried to remove it from the top of his head where it first appeared. It returned. They removed more. It metastasized. In fall of 2014, his doctors gave him a prognosis of seven months without treatment. Near the end of 2015, after he had gone into remission thanks to experimental immunotherapy, Paul vowed he wouldn’t waste time. (This from someone who had lived life every day.) He started dating (!). He bought his dream car, a Tesla. He decided to learn Spanish. He travelled to Machu Picchu. He fell in love with a beautiful woman in Lima named Pilar. He got engaged. Sadly, Pilar’s fiancée visa, which was approved, did not arrive in Peru in time for her to travel to the US and fulfill Paul’s last wish to see her before he died. (He referred to his attempt to get Pilar up here as his personal Make-a-Wish program.)
After Paul’s cancer returned with a vengeance at the end of 2016, I spent the better part of this past January with him—two weeks in North Bend and one week in Los Angeles to look into enrolling in an experimental drug trial. That’s the most time I had spent with him since I was a little kid and we all lived together in the same house. He kept thanking me for coming and I kept telling him how grateful I was to spend time with him. It was such a gift. I returned again to his home in Washington on February 17 and was with him when he died later that evening. His daughter Danielle and his friend Mike were also there.
Paul had had it all but near the end of his life, he talked a lot about love. At the very end of his life—moments before he died—he looked at his daughter Danielle and said, “D, I have to tell you something, you have to listen.” (Danielle’s nickname is D.) “The most important thing in the world—in the fucking universe—is love.” Soon after that, he closed his eyes and was gone.
I try to provide helpful information and useful tips on this blog but Paul had the best nugget of all.
The Subject Tonight Is Love
The subject tonight is Love
And for tomorrow night as well,
As a matter of fact
I know of no better topic
For us to discuss
Until we all