I am blind with grief. Below is a note written by a dear friend.
Dear friends and family of Danielle and Jim Bell
Danielle has asked me to contact you to give you some news which I hoped never to have had to share, and you would have hoped never to receive.
Following what can only be described as a courageous battle against an ugly strain of cancer, Jim Bell passed away at Sherman House hospice, the Mayo hospital in Phoenix, Arizona in the early hours of this morning, Sunday 14 June 2009.
Jim slipped away with all those he loved around him: his wife Danielle, his daughters, many members of his close family were with him, holding on to his hands, arms, feet, legs and sharing funny and special memories of their life with him as he slowly drifted away from the pain he has been suffering for the past few months and especially weeks. Danielle said that the time was marked by incredible peace and love and sounded calm herself as I spoke to her about 20 minutes ago, although she admitted that the shock has not quite sunk in yet. From my telephone conversations with her, I have also been able to gague that these past few weeks have been full of mutual love and care, gentleness and peace.
I am so very sorry to be the bearer of such sad news, and via such a mundane medium, but Danielle wanted you to know sooner rather than later. It seems the memorial service will be held in Australia, and that the family will be returning there soon. I will let you know what the family decide regarding funeral arrangements during the next 24-48 hours, when Danielle herself has got her mind around all that needs to be done and has told me what they are planning.
Given it will be hard to know where to send cards, I thought I would put together a condolence book for Danielle and the girls, of which I will have 2 copies printed: one for Danielle and the other for the girls. If you would like to add some comments to this, please feel free to send anything you wish to write and any photos or pictures you wish to include. If you would like your entry to appear as hand-written, please write it and scan it as a jpeg file, not more than 7-10 lines of normal writing per page....and I will try and accommodate what you have written as well as I can, no matter how many pages you wish to send. Any special photos, memories, anecdotes and/or words of encouragement are welcome, so that we can celebrate all that Jim was to all of us even during this time of sadness.
Once again, sorry to be the bearer of such sad news. I hope that you will find strength and peace no matter where this message finds you, and that, like so many of us, you will be able to smile through your tears, remembering the amazing person Jim was, and how lucky we have all been to have him in our lives.
God bless you, and more later
(one of Danielle and Jim's friends from Afghanistan)
Not, How Did He Die, But How Did He Live?
Not how did he die, but how did he live?
Not what did he gain, but what did he give?
These are the units to measure the worth
Of a man as a man, regardless of birth.
Not, what was his church, nor what was his creed?
But had he befriended those really in need?
Was he ever ready, with word of good cheer,
To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?
Not what did the sketch in the newspaper say,
But how many were sorry when he passed away.