“I will go home to die.”
It was a like a punch in the stomach. Nay, it was like being bludgeoned and pummeled and hammered and then clubbed until all breath leaves you.
Because death, while inevitable, is so final that people faced with it often clutch to everything from denial to hope (or hope formed from denial), while some simply just dive into depressed hole that they cannot get out from.
But Audie Roldan is made from sterner stuff than most.
Last August for instance, he learned his cancer had metastasized to his vital organs.
“After years of fighting, I think it’s finally time to acknowledge that the cancer is winning,” he wrote in his Facebook account, adding, “My CT Scan last week showed disease progression, with the current ones growing and new ones popping up including my lungs. Needless to say, I am in a lot of pain physically, as well as mentally and emotionally.”
What he did next, he did not lose time moping and whining and milking people’s sympathies.
Instead, he had his wife Cheryl document him while he cut his hair and got himself ready so he could record messages for his two son, Sawyer, and Finn (Yes, named after the iconic Mark Twain characters).
People who knew Audie swore by his kindness, his brilliance, his incessant need to make people comfortable and his insatiable desire to extend help to those who need it. He is witty, funny, the life of every party.
Audie knew the meaning of struggle and hard work having had to carve his name and living in a strange place (he is Negros-born but migrated and was naturalized as a US citizen in 1996) and had to practically rely on his own skills and the support of parents Oscar and Gwen.
He seems to be on top of the world. Married to his best friend and soul mate (his partner of more than two decades), with two sons who adore dad a much as he adores them (sons are practically his mini-mes with his inclination towards the arts and music).
Audie’s socmed account is riddled with his day-to-day accounts. Often witty, sometimes gut-wrenching, sometimes schmaltzy (especially when talking about his love for his wife Cheryl whom he obviously still adores), and sometimes humorous (especially when detailing the antics of the Twain bros), his stories often give unfiltered, unflinching stories of his disease. He details his daily pain, his chemotherapy, his trips to the hospital that has become more and more frequent.
In one of his posts, he talked of his close brush with death:
“…I started to feel the most excruciating pain you can imagine in my groin, to a point where I was screaming and begging anyone to end me. Turns out I was hemorrhaging/bleeding internally. I was losing blood fast. The cancer has caused one of my arteries to burst.”
In another, he wrote: “Friends and family, today was the day I was dreading. Today, we learned the cancer has significantly invaded my spine, damaging nerves, in addition to spreading in my rectal area, pelvis, and lungs, causing a multitude of symptoms. Today was also the day my oncologist finally told me how much time I likely have left on this earth. I had to hear it.”
At times, in between the sober entries about his cancer, he would regale his audience with stories of his sons and their piano and guitar skils. His antics in the hospital (he’s apparently a favorite there because of his sense of humor despite his condition). His marvel at his wife’s loyalty, indomitable spirit, and her eyes (Cheryl has the most beautiful pair imaginable). His closeness with his parents.
Through it all, Audie’s demeanor never changes. You can see that the cancer had done nothing to stomp out his grit, his spirit, his good humor.
No groveling for sympathies here (which he could easily have done), no playing up the drama, no self- righteous pontification and self-promotion, no using the name of Lord to flaunt his faith and religiosity and sainthood.
He didn’t have to.
His stories are testament and reflective of Audie’s character: unbowed, unfazed, undaunted.
Such is the man named Audie. After all, not all heroes wear capes.
Some just live extraordinary lives and become living inspiration for others.