Always Played the Right Note

Nick and I at the Outer bBanks

Nick and me at the Outer Banks

 

My good friend Dominic “Nick” Selvi passed away last week from rectal cancer. Throughout my cancer journey, I’ve known people who’ve passed away from cancer. As I reflect on their passing I experience survivor’s guilt and question why them. I would feel uncomfortable around their loved ones because I thought they were thinking why was it their loved one who passed away. When Nicked passed away, I didn’t feel guilty. I just felt sad and alone.

I will never forget the first time I met Nick. I was sitting in the oncology office, when a big guy with a mohawk walked in with a woman. I didn’t think much of it because I often see young people accompanying their loved ones to the clinic. I was called back to get blood work. When I walked back, Janie was talking with the big guy with the mohawk . She looked at me with a huge smile and said ecstatically, “He’s like you!” I was confused as I looked at this big guy with a mohawk and thought how am I like him. Little did I know, at that moment, I found a soul mate. We were similar in age, had young families, and had the same diagnosis. His mohawk was only for one day because he was told he may lose his hair so he had some fun before going back to work. He was an elementary school music teacher and a gifted musician.

I would share with Nick my wild, irrational, positive and negative thoughts about life. I can’t count the number of times he told me, “I got you man”. He was the one person that truly knew what I was going through emotionally, mentally and physically. I am blessed that he was there for me during my highs and lows. He would always make me laugh when I needed a laugh, listened when I needed to talk, and hugged when I needed a hug. He always knew what I needed. When I had emergency brain surgery, he showed up before my surgery with his grandmother’s rosary that was blessed by the Pope. He was always there for me and everyone else he called friend.

We scheduled our chemo for the same days, and the chemo was never as bad on those days. We would sit in the lazy boys getting our chemo and talk about faith, baseball, family, movies, and of course music. Instead of going to a bar or restaurant to hangout, we would double date with our wives at the infusion center (talk about some wild and crazy guys). This past Friday, I was receiving chemo and I just closed my eyes hoping the time would go by fast. I knew it would be hard for me to go back to the infusion center, but I also know it will get easier with time. I’m very thankful for the friendship I had with Nick. Which leads me into Thanksgiving…

This time last year I was thankful for being cancer free or so I thought. Since last year, I’ve grown in learning to be thankful for everything in the moment.  By the time I drive Katie to school in the morning, I’ve already acknowledged numerous moments where I’m thankful.  For example, Anabel has been waking up at 5 a.m. lately and wanting to come into our bed.  I also have a new side effect from my chemo that hurts the bottom of my feet. As I feel the pain in my feet, walking over  to Anabel’s room, I thank God that I’m alive to feel the pain in my feet. And when I pick her up, I’m thankful to hold her to my chest as I walk back to my bed.  I wasn’t thinking that way last year.

This week I became an uncle for the first time. Jacqueline Anna Wein was born to my brother Tim and his wife Andrea.  Everyone is healthy and doing great.  I can’t describe how happy I am for Tim and Andrea.  My brother told me about the pregnancy while I was waiting to have brain surgery.  It was very early in the pregnancy and they hadn’t told anybody. I later joked with them that I was the ideal person to tell their secret to, because who knows what I would remember following brain surgery. Since then I’ve been looking forward to this moment because I believe my entire family really needs this joy that only a baby can bring, and I’m so very thankful for it.

While we are creating new memories with our loved ones this Thanksgiving, please pray and hold close to your heart those who are celebrating the holidays without their loved ones for the first time especially Nick’s wife Melanie, 13 year old daughter Natalie and 4 year old son Gabe. You can read about Nick on his Facebook page: A Sweet Piece of Nick.

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