My son, Laurens David Ramos -- David, as I’ve called him since he was born -- died peacefully – and earlier than we expected --at my house in Savannah on Sat evening, September 12.
As many of you know, David was diagnosed with lung cancer last November. At the time of his diagnosis, he took the news better than I did; he had dealt with schizophrenia for much of his life, and we in his family knew he was often psychic, with a special connection to the universe. His acceptance of life as it is was often a lesson to me and others.
But while David accepted his illness, he also fought it. After having chemo and radiation, he developed pneumonia in February and was put in the care of Hospice. During that time, he also lost his longtime woman friend Linda to Parkinson's.
Before long, he received a reprieve in the form of an x-ray that showed the tumor had shrunk; indeed, that what the x-ray showed -- though it was too early to tell -- might just be scar tissue left by the radiation.
For a time, with a new, lighter heart, David enjoyed himself and his life, coming to our annual Zona Rosa party, hanging out at his apartment, going to his favorite pubs and writing music and playing guitar with his pals. But then, in early August, we learned that the cancer had metastasized.
Still, we didn’t expect the end to come so soon, and I was grateful that I had been able to be with my friends in the Atlanta Zona Rosa group the previous week, and with the Savannah Zona Rosans that very afternoon. Also that my sister Anne and brother-in-law Larry were able to come from Atlanta on short notice, and that his sister Darcy and his step-father, Tim, who also live in Savannah, were with us.
Besides his family, David’s constant companion during this time was Liz, the wonderful caregiver who was sent to us as though by the goddess, and with whom he fell in love. Too, he had Stella, the black and white kitten who had adopted us a few weeks before, as though knowing we needed her, and who stayed in his room close beside him. By that point, he was wearing the leather wristband I had given him, telling him that I would wear it to remind me of him after he was gone.
David, who was part Cherokee and part Cuban, had a special relationship with both people and animals – the tiger was his totem animal and he loved horses. He spoke in poetry and always told his truths; he was also handsome and witty until the end.
He was a beautiful pagan who wanted to die as naturally as possible, and he did. His last words, in reply to Liz's question, "Will you be my boyfriend?” were "I already am." Then, after Liz held the phone to his ear so he could hear his sister Laura's voice from Phoenix, he sighed and appeared to let go.
On the Monday morning after his death, David was buried in a simple Norfolk pine casket in the Greenwich section of Bonaventure, the famously beautiful Savannah cemetery near my house, with a few friends and family members telling and reading remembrances of him; I also read from his boyhood poems. By being so strong, David helped all of us get through this, and he's still doing so.
My deepest thanks to all of you who have sent your prayers and good thoughts during this time. And my thanks, too, to those of you who have already sent messages, letters and other condolences.