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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Zbyszek, in memory of

My cousin text-ed me he was still searching for parking. He would park few blocks from Poznan’s Old Town and then walk to meet us. We hadn't seen each other for over 10 years. Waiting in anticipation I had time to recall some of many moments we spent growing up together:  birthdays, holidays, first communions, weddings, funerals, graduations, family celebrations, vacations. 

When I saw Zbyszek walking towards us smiling and waving his hand, somehow I knew. My heart sank. Always full, strong and dark, his hair was grey and falling. Sign of a dreadful chemo. Later in the restaurant, we learned he had been fighting stomach cancer for the last 6 months. He had to quit his job as a business consultant to dedicate all his energy to the treatment. His wife Kasia resumed full-time job as a pediatrician. His daughter had to change high-school to be close to home. Listening to my cousin I couldn't help but be inspired by his mental strength, faith, optimism and positive outlook on life. There was no bitterness in his voice. No complaining. No “wishing” things were different. He was at peace accepting this challenge. 

Back home I would email and text him every couple of weeks. In his last message he said the results were like a “draw” in a soccer game, no improvement, but also no deterioration. Soon after, he became too weak to type. He passed away in December last year. I was unable to attend his funeral. It was on a day Helen went to labor to give birth to our baby boy.

Running marathon in Ottawa last Sunday I was thinking about my late cousin. About pain he had to endure. About his family he left behind. About how much he is missed. Zbyszek Gorwa (1964-2012).

Run Strong!


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