Yesterday was a very emotionally draining day. One of the hardest I've had. A great man was called home.
To start at the beginning, Bruce Ricks was the first bishop Ryan served with. He was the reason Ryan was the youngest high priest in our ward for 9 years. Even after Ryan was released from the bishopric, Ryan and Bruce stayed really good friends. Now, Ryan doesn't have a lot of friends. He's a friendly guy, but for the most part, he mostly just likes being around me. But Bruce filled the place of a friend who liked to putter outside, and help Ryan with his beekeeping hobby, and they definitely got each other's sense of humor. Ryan was one of two people he called to give him a blessing when Bruce was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 3.5 years ago. President Johnson promised Bruce in that blessing that he would beat the cancer, and while we all wondered how that would all play out (Bruce most of all during treatment), Bruce beat the odds and had almost 2 years of being cancer free before it returned late last spring.
Sunday during sacrament meeting I got a text from Ryan saying that Bruce Ricks was not doing well at all and after church he'd be going to the Ricks home to help out. At the last chemo appointment, Bruce's white blood count was too low, so he was given a shot to help raise the count. His body did not respond well. He couldn't walk to the bathroom by himself and his wife couldn't help him alone.
So Ryan went over twice during the day, and the last one before bedtime, I went with Ryan. I sat with Jeanie while Ryan held Bruce on the toilet. Once he was back to bed, we visited with Bruce and Jeanie in their room, and Bruce held my hand until he fell asleep. He told Ryan I was much prettier to look at than him, ever the ornery guy.
We said goodnight and to call if they needed help again during the night. Bruce was given medicine to sleep, and Bishop Martin was planning on taking the first bathroom shift in the morning. I promised to come and help once the kids were at school.
After I dropped off the girls Monday morning and was on my way, Ryan called to say that Bruce had just passed away. Dr. Weaver and Bishop were in the process of calling their kids to tell them that they'd better come quick to say goodbye to their dad. His body was definitely shutting down, but no one had any idea he'd go so fast.
So I spent the day with Jeanie. I was there while she laid in bed hugging and kissing him and not wanting to let him go. I was there when the funeral home came to collect Bruce. And I stayed until the first of their kids arrived from Boise. It was a very emotional day. And Ryan hated that he had to he at work instead of there helping Jeanie like he'd promised Bruce.
Bruce and Jeanie have been our home teachers for 4 years. We all loved him very much. He was a great man, a spiritual man, a wonderful teacher, and we miss him very much. There were many tears when we told the kids after school.
For Family Home Evening, instead of carving pumpkins like we had planned to, Ryan built a fire in the firepit Bruce helped him make. We roasted marshmallows on the roasting sticks that Bruce had given us a couple of months ago when he knew his cancer was back. And we talked about the Plan of Salvation, and how we looked forward to the day when we would see him again.
"Everyday is sunshine."