Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Final Thump

Above: Sunset in Cabo, Terry's favorite place on earth.

See details for Remembrance and Party at bottom of this post.

Note from Lee Ann:
Terry died today, June 2, 2009, at 1:21 p.m. His final blog post follows…

So this is it. I have shuffled loose the mortal coil. My soul has been hurled into the great void. I am taking the proverbial dirt nap. I bought the farm. I kicked the bucket. I have checked out. Crossed the River Styx. Bought a pine condo. Ceased to be. I am wandering the Elysian Fields. Gone belly up. Checked out. Cashed in. Sleeping with the fishes. Danced the last dance. Run down the curtain. I am pushing daisies. I have joined the choir invisible. I have paid Charon’s fare. I have succumbed. I have sprouted wings. I am history. I am dead.

I started composing this final message in early October 2008. My once-Grade III Anaplastic Astrocytoma with features of a Grade IV Glioblastoma Multiforme had morphed into a recurrent malignant glioma within 13 months of my initial diagnosis. Where brain tumors are concerned, the word “progression” is the most unkind word of all.

When that became clear in late August and early September, I knew that it was not really a matter of if I was going to die, but when and how to make the absolute best use of the time remaining, whether that was two months or two years.

I never viewed this disease as a “gift” or that I was on some kind of “journey.” It just was. There was no way of knowing how this thing appeared in my brain so I tried not to waste any time or energy wondering what I should have or could have done differently. That would have been an exercise in futility. I think I recall one of my doctors telling me early on that there was no way to determine the cause of 98 percent of primary brain tumors. I was probably in the other two percent that didn’t forward one of those damn chain E-mails to my eight closest friends.

I can’t deny there were times when I felt down about the whole situation. Hell, who wants to die in their mid-40s? Not me. All things considered, I would rather just be going about my life with Lee Ann at my side, watching Dale and Jace grow up and live their lives…and hopefully getting our tile roof replaced one day.

I have no idea what lies beyond.

I do know that if love transcends the boundaries of life and space and time, I have amassed more than enough to carry me safely to my next destination. And I hope that I have left enough behind to help light a path so that we may one day meet again.

And especially to Lee Ann, Dale and Jace…wherever you go and whatever you do, be happy and know that my love will always be with you. Forever. I cannot imagine what my life would have been like without the three of you in it. It was a great ride.

So long for now…

Assistant Editor's Note:
Mrs. Melonthump would like you all to participate in events planned to remember and celebrate Terry. Thank you.

Terry's Remembrance:
Saturday, June 6, 8 pm
At the Country House of Sara and John Trittipo
Near Eminence, IN (45 minutes from Indpls)
Map to location (link here)
Please bring chairs for lakeside event and bonfire
Casual attire. Light refreshments.

Terry's Party:
Sunday, June 7, 7 pm
Woodruff Place Town Hall
East Drive, Woodruff Place
(between E. 10th and Michigan Streets)
Casual attire; black clothing discouraged.
Terry's favorite things: including munchies, karaoke and Maker's Mark.


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Steven said...

A man with too much to offer who was taken at such a young age. It put life in perspective for those who are of similar age. We can't live life from year to year, but day by day and moment by moment. My deepest sympathies on such a great loss.

Yoli said...

My condolences to the family. I am deeply touched by your words. Love will forge a path Terry and for his family.

Anonymous said...

Dont know you ...but know you are in a place full of love !!! was a pleasure reading your blogs ...to yur friends & loved ones what a remarkable life ~~mayer593@aol.com

Anonymous said...

May the light of each sunshine day be a calm and make your hearts feel a smidge lighter that Terry is no longer in pain . The depths of his words inspire me. You are are so very blessed to have had him in your lives.
My many sincere prayers are with you as you walk this next life journey as Mom and Son's.
I do not know you or Terry, but he forever has touched a chord in my heart.

Anonymous said...

With much love to a man who clearly knew how to give it and invoke it in others, and love to the family who created and nurtured him. Though our families are strangers, you are in our hearts. I can't imagine losing my spouse, whatever the age - perhaps you feel some horrid mixture of relief, after months of painful caretaking, numb emptiness at the loss of your caretaking routine, and sheer terror at the thought of your years of life without him. You will survive this, Lee Ann, and remember whatever you feel is exactly what you should be feeling. Accept the love and support people offer, notice moments of Terry in your kids, and when the pain is too overwhelming - breathe. Notice the beauty of the sky, ever changing and ever perfect, be in the moment, and just breathe. You and your family are still in this world, and Terry loves you for it.

Anonymous said...

I am truly touched. My prayers and heart go out to Terry, his family and all his friends. God Bless. Sincerely, Michael

Anonymous said...

When the dust settles and suffering is at its greatest, look into each others eyes and see and feel what gifts he has left behind in each of you. Together you will prevail!

Kathie said...

Lee Ann, Dale & Jace,
I'm sad that I didn't personally know your beautiful family. I came across Terry's blog on AOL and it so touched my heart. I too lost my brother at the age of 45. He was my twin and my best friend. God bless you all.

Anonymous said...

Thank you,what an amazing guy and an amazing family.Very sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what an amazing story, such a remarkable man, most wouldn't have the courage he had, good luck, and mostly god bless (ps the shack is an amazing book that might help you find some comfort)

Anonymous said...

I must say, what you did and how you did it (the blog), atleast you will have so much to remember! Your whole family is so strong!
It seemed like you lived the best that you could have!
Peace and love be with you all

A Fitness Minute with Pat Anderson said...

I hope I am as courageous when my time comes...
Sending love.

Anonymous said...

May god bless Terry's soul and family.

Tracy said...

I found the blog through an AOL article. We lost my father-in-law to cancer just 1 year ago 6/5, and my father is currently struggling in Stage 3 with 2 teenagers still at home. My thoughts, prayers, and love go to you and yours.
God bless!

Lynda Hobby said...

I don't know any of you. I don't know Terry, although I feel I do since I sat and read Terry's blog from start to finish and I am not really even sure why I read it since these types of things make me unbelievably sad so I avoid them at all possible costs. But I was so impressed by, and understood why he worked for The Society for Professional Journalists. As a writer myself (aren't we all?), I know the difference between dull and discriptive, the articulate from the a-holes, and honest humor from hypocraty. I am not close to my immediate family (who I fondly refer to as the Cleavers on acid)except for my only daughter of 20 I do have one or two close friends, but they are unreliable at best, so I was happy if not a bit jealous of Terry that he had such a close family and such good friends. But he already knew that and was grateful for it. And "all of you" knew how lucky you were to have known such a funny writer, husband, friend and father. The memory of Terry is unfade-able, and although you will miss him more at certain times than others, the deep sadness and loneliness will subside just as the ocean would do at low tide in Cabo. I wish you all well.

Anonymous said...

Lee Ann and boys, we don't know each other. The only thing we have in common is my son died at the age of 10 six years ago from a pontine glioma. Your husband and dad's story touched my heart and made me sad and smile all at the same time. I loved his sense of humor. I just wanted you to know that you will make it, one day at a time, knowing you will never forget him. He seemed like a precious, precious man and I hope my Corbin has already met him in Heaven. One day I hope to meet him there, too. Hope is a good thing! God is the answer in the next days, weeks, and months. Take care.
Cristy Burnett

Joni Romnes Welzien said...

Dear Terry,

I never had the honor of meeting you, until now - through the words you left behind on the pages of this blog, which I stumbled upon quite by accident today (or perhaps it wasn't an accident?) I like your sense of humor! I'm sure it carried you a long way during your illness. Oh, to find laughter in the darkest of days ... what a special trait. May peace be with you Terry!

To Terry's loved ones,
I know this must be a very difficult time and I don't know the best words. I lost my father (we called him "The Big Guy") this past November after his brief battle with colon cancer. I miss him every day, as you will no doubt miss Terry. The day my father passed away, my brother, my son and I went to work on a video piece in his honor. There is a poem we included at the end of the video that I think you may find comforting - "Life is but a stopping place..." - http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2208810841#/video/video.php?v=1064192407030&oid=75234793286

I know I will be back to visit Terry's blog in the days to come. My thoughts and prayers will be with you.

Anonymous said...

what a cool guy. what a true loss for our world. never knew him but wished i would have.

God Speed you were dear sir, a great man.

Anonymous said...

To all the Harper family, friends and colleagues: I just found Terry's blog and couldn't get through his entire last entry without bursting into tears. I lost my beloved little sister Karen (at age 29) to a grade III pleomorphicxanthroastocytoma brain tumor in 4/2000. She was diagnosed the same day she gave birth to her healthy son Cameron and lived 36 months to the day. I remember standing at Jewel Food store in Chicago ordering balloons for Cameron and talking to the funeral home on the other line. Surreal. I look forward to reading Terry's blog and just wanted to send my sincere condolences. I know she's up there with Terry. God Bless,
Amy in San Diego

Tim said...


I didn't know you and I didn't even discover your blog until I saw it on the news today. I have stage 4 colon cancer and I can appreciate everything that you expressed in your final blog posting.

Rest in peace and best wishes to your family. They will be in my thoughts and prayers,


dakota1955 said...

Love & Peace

Anonymous said...

We miss you, Terry.

Eddie Jenkins said...

I am sorry to be here reading this last blog....but in some way it has helped me see what my sister(Angel) 48 years old and with the same diagnosis as Terry last october, is going through. I would liked to have met him, sounds like an incredible human being. My sympathies to his family, but you have wonderful memories to carry on with you.
Eddie Jenkins
Land O' Lakes, Fl.

Vogel/Grossmann Family said...

Lee Ann, Dale, Jace, and Family

you lost a loving husband, father, son and brother. This is incredibly sad. We will do our best to always picture Terry's smiling face, to remember his witty remarks, and to focus on the good things that happened to him and that he made happen.

Terry found the right words until the very end. How remarkable. You have all been so graceful and courageous over these past few weeks and months. Please know that you have been in our thoughts and will continue to be so.

Auf Wiedersehen, Terry. We will miss you.

Claudia, Mitch, Verena, Haley

Anonymous said...

I just saw a link to this blog on a friend's twitter page. I didn't know Terry. I don't know his family. What I do know is that I am a devoted husband, and loving father of two beautiful children. Terry's final posting touched me very much. Made me cry. And made me count my blessings. Terry, you have touched the soul of a complete stranger. Made me stop for a moment in the middle of a busy day, and reflect. For that, I thank you. I know you will be missed by your family. May they all rejoice in the wonderful memories, and the thought that you will all reunite someday. Rest in peace.

Isparmo said...

Goodbye Terry, our love always with you.

Anonymous said...

I'm very sorry to hear this news, and please accep my condolance to lee annm jace and Dale. Rest in peace terry.

zero_one said...

many condolences to the Harper family..God Bless You all

Ryan Blazer said...

Now you can rest in peace.
We hope you become inspired by the struggle for all people.

Bento said...

Harpers... Terry's blog inspiring me...

Bento - Jakarta

Randy said...

Just got the word from Jennifer M. Was aware you were fighting a battle about the same time I checked in to MD Anderson.
Listen man, you have blessed many lives ... and keep doing so, even now. Be joining you soon enough.
Aloha and mahalo, bruddah.

Anonymous said...

i can't imagine if i know when i will leave the world, maybe im not strong like you do this letter, RIP

khiang, Indonesia

Cak Win said...


Peri Kecil said...

Rest In Peace..GBU

Anonymous said...

I am so touched by Terry's blog and how he dealt with his life, legacy and death with dignity, humor and acceptance. I have come across his blog on the day he died-----and my 45th bday. I am a doctor and I have seen and experienced some of the
most remarkable ways of how people deal with borrowed time. It made me thank God more for the gift of life. I know that even though Terry had accepted that death is inevitable, he still did not want to leave his family....not yet. But, it was God's will and what an inspiration to all of us who are still continuing to live life's daily grind. Thank you, Terry and fly high in the high heavens....peaceful and free!

Emmanuel , M.D.

MoneyForFree said...

Dear Lee Ann,

On behalf all of my family in Indonesia, I send condolences to the entire Harpers family. Keep in faith in Jesus Christ that He has put Terry in heaven right now. We all will always miss Terry all the time.


admin said...

thx for the inspiration you gave all of us...


sulumits retsambew said...

I'm truly sorry for your lost, May God Bless you all. God is no doubt with you now.

Anonymous said...

People also die but they live forever in our heart and

he die only to reborn in the heart of others.


Anonymous said...

To the family of Terry Harper. I only really knew Terry back when we were young. I saw him 20 years later briefly. He was an important part of my youth and part of him lives in many. Terry may not of been sure where he was going but I do and we will all see him soon enough. God Bless you, Bobby Dobbins

Anonymous said...

my god be with ALWAYS

KJLDPL said...

Lee Ann, Please let us all know how you and the family are doing. I know we are all thinking of you and hoping you are all okay.

Beth P. said...

Although first time at Terry's blog, at this moment, I think that the world is brighter with him lighting the way, rather than dimmer...

Thank you to all--

Anonymous said...

To you Terry and your family. I know how hard it is and was. My heart goes out to you. In about a months time Terry would you please welcome my wife, Florence, up there and tell her how much I miss here. She coming to the end of a grueling 8 year battle, which she lost.
She loves a drop of port wine with a lot of ice, if there is any!
As she is french (and we live here in France) she always said she had a "tu meurt pas" you don't die...
God bless you all,
Dara O Baoill

Anonymous said...

Rwad this post in The Shield (never been a big Phi Psi guy, but I still read it) and was quite moved by it, not in a weepy way, necessarily, but rather as an inspiration. I hope I go out with such perspective (and humor) when my time comes. Thanks Terry, and bless you and your family.

San Franicsco, CA

kanishk said...

Heartfelt condolences to the Harper family, and peace to Terry
free classified india

Anonymous said...

Hello, I think your blog is epic. Congrats.
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Anonymous said...

Hi Lee Ann, Dale, Jace Not sure how often or if you check back here. But 2-3 times a year, I do, and I read that final entry and become reaquainted with the blessing that Terry's friendship was for me and so many others. I loved talking to him, there are so few who could keep up with him. I flattered myself that I could, but that was of course not the case. I still miss his energy and his voice and his karaoke. We were all lucky weren't we? Clyde

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