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The Summit

Summit of Mt. Everest
11/23/03

Many of you know me through Robert's writings on this Web site.

I am the "my Caren" he often referred to.

Robert was my husband.

Robert died at 1:10 p.m. on Sunday, June 15, 2003. It was a couple of hours after his son left to return to California after spending the night with him. I was at his side, holding Robert's hand in mine. He was in no pain, resting calmly and peacefully until his last breath.

Today (November 23, 2003) would have been the fourth anniversary of his diagnosis in 1999. Tomorrow would have been our first wedding anniversary. It was Robert's custom to post an essay on this date and after remaining silent for the past five months I decided that this would be a good time for me to come out of hibernation. Just as I have relived the pain while writing this essay it is my intent for tomorrow to relive the joy.

Robert was fond of analogies. If he could explain something with a good analogy then he figured he'd got it nailed down. One of his essays explains his Climbing Mt. Everest analogy. I remember when he first came up with it and the following week half a dozen books about climbing Everest arrived from amazon.com.

He told me stories about teams that climbed the mountain and what they carried and their struggles and difficulties. One thing that stands out in my mind is how he described that as climbers get higher and the air becomes thinner you get to the point where you take four steps for every one breath. And as you approach the summit it becomes one step for every four breaths.

During April and May 2003, that is where Robert was, one step for every four breaths. Robert was alive every minute of that final assault. Even during this struggle Robert reached summits of growth and courage. He retained his purpose and integrity throughout the climb. I encourage everyone to recognize that you can reach real summits even if you are taking one step for every four breaths, and every step you are taking is a triumph if it moves you in the direction you want to go.

Robert found fulfillment and joy in helping all those in the prostate cancer community. My life and I'm sure many others' are richer because of his life and his work. He leaves a legacy of immeasurable value for all those who come after him, not just in the form of the Phoenix5 Web site but by his example of living and loving and working and laughing--appreciating every day as a precious gift. Robert will certainly be missed the world over.

I want to thank the many of you who wrote to me in the weeks preceding and following Robert's death. There were so many heart warming emails that I wasn't able to respond to them all personally. Please know that Phoenix5.org will continue on as Robert's legacy to his family and friends.

Caren Cohen Young
caren@fuse.net

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This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not replace or amend professional medical advice. Unless otherwise stated and credited, the content of Phoenix5 (P5) is by and the opinion of and copyright © 2000 Robert Vaughn Young. All Rights Reserved. P5 is at <http://www.phoenix5.org>. P5's policy regarding privacy and right to reprint are at <www.phoenix5.org/infopolicy>.