This is Katie.
It breaks my heart to let everyone know that Jeff passed away February 2nd, at about 11:30pm. He died at home with us, laying cuddled in bed with me while I read to him. Jeff was ready to leave this world and he was at peace and he actually had a very peaceful death. His best friend, Cale, was in the room with us and after reading the chapter I just looked at Jeff and realized he was gone.
Even now I am so torn by Jeff’s passing. Jeff was ready to go, his body was done and as time went on he had increasing discomfort. His last day was extremely tough. But as happy as I am to have him be out of pain its still so hard to have lost Jeff. His prognosis changed so quickly that it really took us all by surprise and although we knew that one day we would lose him I don’t think any of us were prepared. Even on New Years Eve, just a week before he was admitted into the hospital with a GI bleed, I felt like we had more than 6 months, and I don’t think any of us conceived of him not living to meet his new little niece who we are expecting in March.
I am so thankful though for the time we had together. Jeff was truly the bravest person I have ever known. He fought courageously for 3 years, and not just for time for himself, but for time for all of us. He faced each challenge or surgery with true bravery, he never complained and he never once asked why me. He often feared that the cancer would lead to an early death but he always took on each challenge with full intent to defeat it or at least die fighting.
I know Jeff always provided a lot of medical details in his blog updates and I had started to write that update after he got out of the hospital but honestly it was so hard to not only find the time but also to know what to write. When Jeff checked out of the hospital he really looked like he had days but he then went on to really improve and he ended up living another 18 days. The roller coaster of not knowing how long he had made it very hard to process. I will try and post details of exactly what happened later but its just too hard right now.
One of the things that brought Jeff the most peace was his celebration event that we held on Jan 15th, the night he was discharged from the hospital. I had personally never heard of a living funeral but it just seemed like it would be such a waste for us all to gather days after losing him to stand in a room and talk about him when instead we could tell him. Jeff liked the idea and we were thrilled with the turn out. People had 24 hrs notice and there was a snow storm coming in and yet the room was packed and we had over 15 people who flew in for the event to share their memories with Jeff and say good-bye. As most of you know Jeff wasn’t one to really say he liked something but he told many of us in the days after the event how much it meant to him. My husband asked Jeff just a few days before he passed if he had any guidance on how to come to peace with your own death for when his time came and Jeff replied that he highly recommended having a Celebration event. It was a beautiful event and we had a friend record it on video and I’ll be posting that link in the next week for those who want to watch it. I know I personally learned so much about Jeff and who he was from hearing how others viewed him and it was a real gift to get to hear all of the stories that were shared. Its also been very comforting for me since his passing to watch videos of Jeff from our many adventures over the last several years so I’ll make sure to post some of those highlights as well.
Jeff spent a lot of his final days tying up loose ends, saying goodbye to friends and leaving a few legacy videos for Lizzy, his niece. One of the most beautiful things he did was have the opportunity to read Lizzy the book that he wrote for her. Jeff wrote the book about a year and a half ago when we were on a family vacation in Hawaii. After listening for days to us read her the books we had brought with us Jeff decided to write her his own book. Its called Welcome Welcome Little Star and it was published on Amazon just days before his death. He was quite happy to be a published author and was excited that this was completed. (A HUGE THANK YOU to KATE KOLESAR who beautifully illustrated the book and to RICK KOLESAR who did all of the final paperwork and logistics to get it published) Jeff was able to read Lizzy a published version of the book just days before he died. It was a very special gift and reading her his book that he made for her is now part of our bedtime routine and is helping her to cope with her loss of her “Uncas”. Lizzy talks about how much he loved her because he made a book for her. I know Jeff would be honored to have you purchase a copy of his book. He asked that all proceeds go to support the Neema Foundation, a non-profit I founded that builds computer labs in Tanzania. It is my hope that with the funds we will be able to build a Jeffrey Stone Memorial Computer lab. We have also decided to turn Jeff’s bedroom into a playroom for the girls, something I think he would love, and are using the images from his book to decorate the room.
Jeff’s final wishes were to be cremated and then to have his ashes buried in a Cemetery. He designed his tombstone which is just so Jeff- swords coming out the top, a glass orb and a little drawer for people to leave him notes and things. Pedro and I found a beautiful plot for him at Lakeview Cemetery on Capital Hill in Seattle. It is one of Seattle’s oldest and is the final resting place for many of Seattle’s pioneer families as well as Bruce Lee (we thought Jeff would like that). It is also a popular location for Japanese to be buried. We thought with Jeff’s love of Japan that it would be a wonderful place for him and we found a beautiful plot by a tree overlooking the lake and mountains. Jeff’s tombstone will take several months to make so he will be placed there late this summer for those who would like to visit.
Jeff told us who to give a lot of his things to but there were a few miscellaneous items that are so Jeff that we want to ensure have a good home but don’t know who to give them to. I’ll be posting a list with photos soon with items that we would love to go to his Friends who would enjoy them. For example there are several manga wall scrolls, some games and of course his cosplay Blue Mage outfit. Please let me know if you are interested in any of those items.
And finally a thank you. I have so many people to thank really. First of all- all of you who have read this and all of his friends. You helped give him the strength to fight every day. I would also truly like to thank everyone who attended his celebration event. As I said this event really touched Jeff and I am so thankful that this helped him to find such peace. I’d also like to specially thank Alissa for staying with us for 10 days when Jeff got home from the hospital- it was an overwhelming time and having you here to support not only him but all of us was amazing and I know he really enjoyed having that time with you. A Thank You as well to his fellow students and teachers at ASU who helped to get Jeff a honorary PhD- he was very proud of this and we do intend to put Dr. Jeffrey Stone, Ph.D on his tombstone. And finally, but most importantly, his best Friend Cale and his fiancé Molly. I simply don’t know what we would have done without them. Cale helped Jeff so much during his final weeks- they spent long hours in conversations about life and death and those discussions and debates really helped Jeff come to terms with everything and prepare to move forward into the next life. Cale has been Jeff’s best friend since 2nd grade and was his life long confidant and Cale was really there for Jeff night and day during this. Cale and Molly visited daily and actually stayed with us during what was Jeff’s last week. The love and support that they showed not only to Jeff but to my whole family was amazing and it was such a gift. I personally don’t know how I could of survived Jeff’s last day without Cale and Molly and I know that it brought Jeff great comfort to have them with him in the end.
As hard as it is to lose Jeff I am so thankful of the time we had together. Jeff could have died years ago or in an accident and we never would have had the opportunity to really live these last 3 years enjoying each other and each moment. We all take life so for granted but Jeff taught us to really live every day- we celebrated, had dance parties with Lizzy, traveled, built forts, ate dinner together every night as a family and just enjoyed the daily random moments in life. We didn’t realize how quickly our time with him would end but we did make the most of it and for that I am so thankful.
Again thank you to everyone for all of the support for Jeff. You are all amazing. Jeff made sure that everything he left Lizzy made sure to tell her to enjoy the journey, so I ask you all to do the same. Life is simply too short, none of us know how long we have, so go out and live the life you would if you had only weeks/months to live. Jeff did and I know he felt that although his life was short, that it was well lived.