Died: August 28, 2002
From Bob’s lady friend, Tonia Fasi
Robert Barnes Holdridge died on August 28, 2002 at 6:29 in the morning, peacefully at the Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii after a valiant struggle with lung cancer. He was at peace with himself and the world, and faced death with equanimity, saying with a smile on his face that “death is the other side of life.” He died in the arms of his companion and partner of seven years with no malice in his heart and only goodness in his soul, in the presence of friends Wendy Lagareta and John Whalen.
Bob will be sorely missed by all who knew him. He had a profound effect on the lives of those who knew him, showing by action the value of kindness, generosity, compassion and courage. He used to say that “life is 10 percent what you were given, and 90 percent what you do with it” and he made that maxim come alive. One of the last days of his life was spent at the beach swimming in the Ko Olina lagoons on west Oahu. He loved those lagoons with their clear turquoise waters, crescent-shaped white sand beaches, fringed with grass and palm and lauhala trees. He spent a magical day first visiting the Arizona Memorial at Pear Harbor, which profoundly affected him, and the afternoon swimming in the lagoon with friends Elaine Costello, Bud Dougherty, Anna, their daughter, and Toni.
He was floating in the water with his face to the sun when he told Elaine, ” You might not believe this, but I think that I am the luckiest man in the whole universe.” He said this knowing that his cancer would ultimately kill him, but he chose to focus instead on the fact that he was on one of his favorite beaches in the place he loved best with some of the friends and companions that he loved most. He was grateful for the time he had left and made the most of it while his body allowed him to. In the last few days before he died, he realized that his body was failing him, but he chose to cherish each moment here in this realm despite his weakening health. He was impatient with his lack of energy and shortness of breath in those last days, and I think he was not sad to leave his failing body. I know he was sad to leave his son and family of friends whom he loved wholeheartedly, but I know also he was not sad to leave his body which no longer served him.
Bob spread so much joy and happiness to all those who knew him. I think that he developed a golden glow in those last days, and I can see him smiling and telling himself that he was one lucky guy for all the blessings he had been given. He set such an example for us all, and I know he made me a better person for having known and loved him. I think a few others would also say this since he inspired love and brought out the best in each person he encountered.
He faced his personal demons and conquered them, transforming himself and others in the process. He faced death in the same way, but he conquered it through acceptance rather than change. I know he taught me compassion, courage, and patience, and to focus on the joy, not the sadness, in life. I will remember his laughter, his good humor, his eclectic knowledge of old rock and roll songs, his love of baseball, and the way in which he was able to love wholeheartedly and without conditions. I like to think I was able to reciprocate those things in some small way in the last years of his life.
We can go loving and remembering Bob by realizing that his passing was a blessing to him, and we should try to emulate him by cherishing each moment we spend with loved ones as well as all others. I have made a vow to remember him by trying to perform a small act of random kindness each day and dedicating it to him. I know he would enjoy and appreciate it if those who loved him could remember him in the same way. As Bob would say, “That would be awesome!”
Go in peace, my love, we will always love and remember you.
Bob was my best friend at Williams. We went in different directions after graduation but I thought of him often. Hopefully I will see him on the other side