Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tony Snow: 1955 - 2008

I always knew where it was going, Tony Snow's illness.

Oh, he was cavalier, he was upbeat and gallant about his situation, he fought hard and he fought well. But I have seen rampant cancer doing its wretched job, upfront and personal. Cancer works overtime, never quits, has no mercy. And it is indifferent to those left behind.

Snow died Saturday, July 12, at the age of 53. If you compare photos of Tony Snow before his diagnosis and as he left the White House, you can see the marks of battle upon him. Cancer erodes, strips, wastes, and lays bare. It is like a runaway internal wild fire racing through flesh, leaving a ravaged, fragile whisper of the person that once was. The end, when it comes, is a blessed release for the cancer victim.

The struggle is over for Tony Snow, yet it just begins for his family. His wife and children are the cancer victims now. They must learn to reconcile the pain of his loss with the comfort of his peace. That is a long, wrenching journey comprised of a different kind of fight, no less daunting, against a raging storm of emotions.

Two and a half years after I watched my husband die of cancer, I see no end to my own emotional struggle. Yet I find I am consistently grateful each day that cancer can never make Pete suffer again. It's not much, but it's a start, and I cling to it as a life raft. I send the Snow family my prayer that they will find their own life raft, emerging somewhere up ahead through the crashing waves of their grief.