It's hard to believe he is gone. I just walked past his office and saw his desk, fixtures, his computer, and his books; everything pretty much as he left it weeks ago. Craig unexpectedly had to leave Colorado Springs and head to Houston because, suddenly out of nowhere, a new and aggressive cancer appeared that took him in a matter of weeks. Wow, so staggering how quickly things changed! Looking in his office, I'm expecting to find Craig walking out to give me a hug and then proceed to tease me about the way I said “howdy” with a bit of Texas drawl or prodding me that my baseball team didn't make it to the college worlds series. Then he would smile and say, "you know I'm kidding you."
In those last 50 days when Craig was in the hospital in Houston, we were able to see him in the midst of his battle, as his body was being overcome by this new killer cancer. Even in the midst of all of that, he would cut up and take swipes at me with that loving tease that made me feel like a brother. He asked to see a picture of our newly born grandson and then he’d comment how fortunate my grandson was not to get my looks. He’d then be looking at me and laugh. I loved his kidding...it always made me laugh and smile even when I was the brunt of it, which often I was. It was never offensive though, as that is part of the way Craig loved you.
That's what I am missing already about our beloved Craig, is just how he loved so well even in the midst of his deep suffering. Craig's incredible gift of joy and humor were something I once envied (future blog on that). He passed with such grace, peace, and dignity in the midst of excruciating suffering because he continually loved outwardly toward the doctors, professionals, his friends, and all who were exposed to his life and ministry. Within a couple of weeks to the end, I happened to be there in Houston with him in his hospital room when he told his leading doctor that he wanted to spend his remaining days loving people at home rather than fighting this battle he knew was close to its end. That is how I remember him...his desire to love people to the very end!
I love that he chose love rather than bitterness when he was so close to remission, when his battle became so desperate and his life overrun by his enemy, this new and aggressive cancer. There is a similarity with his father's life ending; he died in The Korean War (when Craig was 6 months old) when his position was overrun by the charging enemy and he was killed at the end of the 14th day of a 14 day battle. I smile knowing that Craig has met his earthly father for the first time with perhaps Jesus making that introduction!
My goodbye to Craig was a couple of days before he passed. I got to pray over him as I watched him smile and see his lips say, "thank you, thank you."
I love his courage. I love the integrity of his life. I love you back Craig in all the ways you have loved me. I'm a better man because of you!