Henri Nouwen (McNeill and Morrison too) wrote in Compassion, “When do we receive real comfort and consolation? Is it when someone teaches us how to think or act? Is it when we receive advice about where to go or what to do? Is it when we hear words of reassurance and hope? Sometimes, perhaps. But what really counts is that in moments of pain and suffering someone stays with us. More important than any particular action or word of advice is the simple presence of someone who cares. . . . These reflections offer only a glimpse of what we mean when we say that God is a God-with-us, a God who came to share our lives in solidarity. It does not mean that God solves our problems, shows us the way out of our confusion, or offers answers for our many questions. He might do all of that, but his solidarity consists in the fact that he is willing to enter with us into our problems, confusions, and questions.”
My brother inlaw’s birthday is today. Don Cuttill died on 29 September 2005. He would be 46 years old. Late August-early September Don went to the doctor for a check up and was immediately rushed to the hospital. Doctors removed 8 inches of his colon. He was fine, though he still needed chemotherapy. Two weeks later doctors put in the port for the chemo. A week after the port the first dose of chemo came. It was a heavy dose, and made him ill. He recovered quickly. A week later the second and lighter dose came. He went home from work, tired and complaining of some pain. He fell out of bed that evening, stopped breathing, and the responders and doctors couldn’t revive him. He died. My sister, Chad, and Chandler live on. They are incredible people and this can be attributed to a great deal to the kind of person Don was. He too was amazing.
He taught me how to treat my wife. Once when my brother, Marc, was a teenager and was being particularly mean and inconsiderate to my sister (I think he punched her in the arm or something) Don grabbed Marc, threw him up against the wall, and told him that he was never to touch his [Don’s] wife again. At that moment Marsha was not Marc’s sister, she was Don’s wife. Now, when someone takes an unkindly tone with my wife (though it rarely happens) I simply remind them that they are to speak to her with more respect.
Don liked music. I remember whenever he’d take me anywhere, the radio was on the classic rock station and Led Zeppelin would start playing “Stairway to Heaven” Don would turn it up and say, “A little Led for the head.” That always makes me smile. He wasn’t limited to the classics, though. He liked Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson, Cold Play, Eric Clapton, Government Mule, The Doobie Brothers, and more. He really liked B. B. King. And who can blame him for that. Don played the guitar himself, but not just any guitar, he played a Martin. He also had great taste in movies: Caddyshack, Ground Hog Day, Fletch, Stripes. And who can forget Jerry Lewis.
We had the best time last year when Marsh, Don, Chad and Chandler as well as Marc and his family visited us in Kansas City. We went to Oceans of Fun and just got toasted by the sun. I’m glad we did that.
Don was a model of the Love of Christ to his family and everyone else around him. People loved to be around him. When Don laughed, it was as though the world stopped, took notice, and laughed with him. Sometimes it is hard to laugh now. We all love him and miss him. May we always remember the blessing he will continue to be in our lives. He is truly a gift.
Here’s to God's solidarity and here’s to Don Cuttill. His life is blessing!