Talking Through the Tears:
How to start a conversation about dying
By the time Bob Redick was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in his left tonsil, the cancer had already spread into his lungs. He underwent aggressive treatment and enrolled in a clinical trial, but none of it stopped the cancer.
By early 2007, Redick knew he was out of options. His family -- wife Adriana and children Bobby and Melissa -- knew it, too. And yet they couldn't fully comprehend it.
When Bob Redick entered the hospital on Feb. 18, 2007, for a nosebleed that just wouldn't quit, it didn't occur to any of them that this would be the last two weeks of his life.
"We pictured it differently," said Adriana Redick. "Nobody said this could happen or that could happen. We just didn't put two and two together."
"We took it for granted that he'd still be here," said Bobby.
The will to survive is our strongest and most basic instinct. It's one thing to understand death in an intellectual way. Coping with it emotionally, though, is something completely different.
As the Redicks struggled with the idea that Bob would die, the family took some steps while he was still with them that they say made a terrible situation slightly more bearable.
Working together with a photographer and videographer, the family documented Bob's story. They recorded conversations about how Bob felt when he first saw Adriana. Bob spoke directly into the camera about his hopes for Melissa and Bobby, who were then 13 and 12, respectively. And he wrote letters to help keep the family on track after he knew he would be gone.
"Sometimes it's very hard to talk about, but it's from my heart," Bob says in one of the videotaped interviews. "We've gotten to see each other in a different light. We've had fun. If I do pass away, they do have something instead of nothing. I thought I was leaving them nothing."