“Even if I’m dead, if you’re seeing this, I had a happy ending”
From the notebook of ‘Charles Peacock’
Six years ago an email appeared in the inboxes of many people who knew and loved Chad Peacock. The first line of the email read…
OK, so here’s the news, it’s not really good or bad, it just is what it is and it’s exactly what I was expecting, so I’m just gonna roll with it and do what I can do to kick this thing in the brain-ass.
For six years Chad did in fact kick ‘that thing in the brain-ass.’
For six years, Chad lived with glioblastoma (Rainbow effect as he always wrote it) and when I say ‘lived’ I mean he lived! He lived with the same love, passion, reckless abandon and joy that he had always lived with, long before he was ‘Cancerful™’ Chad lived and lived fully and independently, right until the moment he passed away on December 17th surrounded by family and love.
For nearly 30 years, I was fortunate enough to share my journey with Chad. In that time I can not think of him ever passing a rose without stopping to smell it. That is not a metaphor, Chad ‘literally’ always stopped to smell the roses. No matter what the prognosis or challenge, Chad faced it with an almost superhuman degree of grace and humor and his appreciation for beauty and life, never changed, even in his darkest moments. All you have to do is look at how he defined the side effects of brain cancer in his writing…
BRAIN CANCER (glioblastoma) Side effects may include:
- A heightened awareness of the value and indispensability of friendship;
- A strong desire to live every fucking day to its fullest;
- The ability to one-up any story ever;
- Better, richer relationships with your relatives and loved ones;
- An even greater appetite for smelling roses;
- Some of your life goals and greatest dreams coming true.
I mean it ain’t ALL wine and roses, this BrainChance thing, but it has its upside(s).
And that’s something.
Chad’s life was as beautiful and fragrant as any rose he smelled, because that is the way Chad made it. He did not like to use the word ‘fight’ as in “Chad is fighting brain cancer,” because Chad did not ‘fight’ against his brain cancer, instead, he accepted and even embraced it as a part of his bizarre and wonderful journey. As Chad said in that first email “I’m gonna laugh and run and skip my way through this thing” and he did just that, smelling every rose, eating cake for breakfast, rejoicing in the surreal, making up silly songs and always living on his own terms, even jumping out of a plane in Norway dressed in a furry purple animal costume just last month.
A few weeks before he passed Chad and I sat up late one night staring out at the ocean watching the waves of the pacific roll in and out like theater. He was as full of joy, wisdom and silliness as he had always been, but there also seemed to be a ‘knowing’ in him, that his time was running out. Maybe that knowing was in both of us, because we talked all night about everything and nothing, and shared those deep thoughts and fears the way only two old friends can.
One thing Chad truly feared was that all of the people who have found hope and comfort in the words of this blog, whether they are Cancerful themselves, or love someone that is Cancerful, or simply found meaning and inspiration in his words, would be shaken and disheartened to slowly discover one day that he was gone. He was horrified at the idea of a blog that simply stopped and was just left unwritten. He hated what that dawning realization, would bring to those who had come to his ‘Brain Chancery’ seeking some kind of inspiration or hope.
So now as we sit in the sadness and confusion of loss, I think it is important to find a way to make sure this moment does not spread despair and sorrow but instead is a celebration of life and the power of hope, humor and love, because that’s what Chad believed were the things that could cure us, from anything that made us feel sick or disheartened, even if was just for a moment. I think ultimately the best way to let Chad’s sentiment and inspiration lift us as it always has, is to let Chad’s words speak for themselves.
Below is a ‘Brain chancery entry from January 29th 2013,
If anything should ever happen to me (in an untimely fashion that is, where “timely” is defined as, I don’t know, 77 years old?) I’d like somebody to deliver the following address at my funeral.
Dressed in an Abraham Lincoln costume.
With the beard and the hat.
No, I’m not kidding.
And don’t worry, I’m not writing this because I have any reason to believe I’m about to be de-fashioned in an untimely way.
I’m writing this because I wrote it, on my cell phone, in the dark of a movie theater after I watched “Lincoln.”
I was inspired by the soaring oratory of Spielberg-Kushner-Daniel-Day-Lincoln. And was wondering why no one ever talks like that in normal everyday life. Wondering why you’re expected to not be extremely articulate or particularly moving unless you’re on a podium or in front of a casket. Or staring down the barrel of a gun.
I guess I am, in a sense, staring down the barrel of a gun. Lucky for me that I have this blog to serve as an e-podium, otherwise I’d sound like a weirdo just walking down the street with a friend and offhandedly saying the following in a high-register Lincoln voice:
We work to conquer or circumvent these moments of fear, these times of terror and despair and lack of hope, so that we may enjoy each other and this thing called “life” in all its wonder and its glory… and not in its pain.
What else can we do or should we do but work to facilitate love, and smiling and laughing and joy. Because the way to conquer fear and sadness is to replace them with hope, and with happiness; and while we wish this would happen freely and come to us like a gust of grace in the wind, sometimes it takes work.
The good news, friend, is that this is not something that is out of our control– in fact it is completely and very much up to us whether we choose to look forward, or to look down, or to turn away in fear.
For just as we can make the decision to stop and appreciate the smell of a flower or the beauty of a newborn baby, so can we choose to look fear in the eyes and say:
“This is not your time. You will not hold sway over me now.”
And we can do this with the confidence that comes from knowing one thing: that the world will always be filled with beauty and wonder and hope, so long as we are willing to find it, to let it find us, and to accept it, always, with open arms.
(For the record, I would not be against having Daniel Day Lewis there to read this in the Lincoln costume.)
Charles Phillip Peacock Jr. 12/28/75 – 12/17/17
Post by Brian Klugman