RIP: Phil Leventhal (1956-2007)
Phil was nobody famous, just an average, ordinary guy who loved rock music and sailing, a loving husband and proud father of two. To me, he was a valued co-worker and an inspiration.
Phil was diagnosed with esophageal cancer 5 years ago, but prevailed. This year, the cancer returned in his lungs before spreading to his brain. Despite it all, Phil came to work as much as he could, always smiling and upbeat despite the obvious physical toll cancer, chemo and radiation took on his body. He even spent the last weekend before being hospitalized sailing with his family and jamming with his rock band.
Unfortunately, the morphine necessary to cover the pain of cancer also concealed the pain that would have let Phil know that something was wrong with his intestines. Friday, June 15, his intestines burst and he had to go through emergency surgery to repair a perforated bowel. Wednesday, June 20, with both the cancer and an infection attacking his body, Phil succumbed, surrounded by his family.
Phil has taught me something about how to face death living. As I struggle daily with my own mortality, with pain and exhaustion, anger and grief, sheer terror and occasional bouts of peace, I hope I can manage half the dignity and joy that Phil carried with him every day. I will carry Phil's broad smile with me now, a reminder to find life worthwhile in the face of death.
This was Phil's gift to all of us. I can only hope that my gift to him, helping to ensure that his death notice and obituary were worthy of his life, is enough.
Rest in peace, Phil. We'll miss you.