Cancer became part of our household discussions five months before Andrea was diagnosed with breast cancer. It began when two of our friends were diagnosed with cancer around the same time. And both of those stories ended within seven days of each other — one as a miracle when we learned that our friend Caroline who was given a grave prognosis will be completely cancer free after one last surgery next month; the other with the inevitable.

David O’Farrell passed away at 1:02 a.m. He was 38 years old. The aggressive spread of the disease made the battle short and extremely painful. David, being the fighter he is, refused to give up. However, in the final weeks, the spread of the disease to his brain was more than his body could handle.

Being the “fourth brother” of the O’Farrell family meant I spent a lot of time hanging out with Bob, Jamie and David. I remember playing half-court with them and then going to the 7-11 so we could each get a tub of Coke to quench our thirst. David was a member of the crew during various incarnations of the band Bob, James and I were in (David did all of the fun work like lugging gear and helping to setup and teardown for live shows and practices). I recall a few outings to the driving range and countless hours of movie watching. I was also at the table for more than a few O’Farrell Christmas dinners and Andrea and I attended David’s wedding to Amanda.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to see David in August. He was in the hospital at the time battling an infection and had a full beard. Bob, Jamie and I had gone to Oshawa for the weekend to visit Dave and clean and paint his house — we also indulged in David’s amazing liquor cabinet and took care of his dogs. Dave and I spoke a few times after that visit, the last time was in September. He emailed me on Dec. 9th to say that he would be in Ottawa later this week. While we didn’t speak often, it seems particularly strange that it’s no longer possible.

This holiday season will have greater meaning for me. Even if I’m not able to connect with everyone I want to, know that I’m thinking about you and I wish you a happy, healthy and safe holiday season and a fantastic new year.

Photo from Dave’s Facebook profile.

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