Thursday, September 18, 2014

Melanie's remarks from the memorial service in Plainfield, CT

Many of you who attended the memorial service in Plainfield, CT asked if we would post Melanie's eulogy of John. You will find it below.

As most of you know I am a teacher. I am always guiding students in life skills as well as teaching them skills for a life time of physical activity. Twenty months ago on a sunny day in January when my son was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer I became a student and he became my teacher.

The maturity that John Foster displayed upon receiving the diagnosis of this life shortening disease was met with courage and bravery beyond his 22 years of age.
John did not back down from the news. He helped us to learn all that we could about treatment, love, respect, patience, faith, and hope. He met each challenge head on and kept up his fighting spirit until the end.

I thank him for the lessons well taught in a dire situation.

John Foster created a bucket list, not a long one, but most of the items revolved around time with friends and family, doing what he loved in life with the people he carried about. He also had a love for food and cooking and “chemistry in the kitchen” as he called it!

John’s dedication to his family and friends was admirable. Although we are approximately 3000 miles away from most of you, he was always curious as to what the east coast family was up to. The phone call, cards, emails and social media postings helped John Foster “keep in touch” with life on the east coast. He also got to brag about his San Francisco Giants, Warriors, and 49ers with some of you. The special bond that was forged in childhood trips east remained with John Foster as an adult.

The fun times jumping waves, playing Whiffleball , eating lobster at the beach, picking blueberries, going to UCONN for ice cream, sledding and skiing in the snow and visiting with his family and friends here remained near and dear to his heart. 

Just last summer, on a quick trip east in between treatments at Duke, he enjoyed some special times and special treats with many of you. He was looking forward to visiting again this August but this was not to be.

He loved it all and most of all he loved you all. John Foster did not back down from this disease; he was courageous and brave and had faith. He was and will always be an inspiration to me.

I would like to leave you with a few thoughts from a sentiment that a friend of mine sent me when she heard of John Foster’s passing:

Do not grieve the loss of my love; I am still by your side. I have not left you, but instead I am walking beside you. It is true my earthly body is gone, but my spirit lives forever. I am now one with the Holy Spirit, and I am one with you.

Speak to me, and I will listen
Listen for me, and I will respond.
Look for me, and you shall find me.
I am everywhere at once.

I will speak to you through your thoughts, and dreams and through others. 
I will be the wind which whispers in your ear.
I will be the sun which rises in the east, and the brilliant sunset of the west.
I will be the moon which lights your nights, and the twinkling stars above.
I will be the rains that wet the land and quench the thirst of life.
I will be the sunlight that warms the earth, providing the world with light.
I will be the flowers blooming in springtime, and the colored leaves of fall.
I will be the violent storms of summer, and the glistening snowflakes of winter.

Dry your tears and cry no more, my life is untouched. I rest in the house of the Lord, and we shall meet again. 

Remember me for what I was, only the good, not the bad. Remember the good times we have had together, not those which upset you or make you sad.

I have been given the wings of angels, and my souls soars high into the heavens. I am free like the wind, and my life is eternal.

If you thought I would live forever, you were correct. 

I am alive inside of you.

Stephen T. Fader


Sunday, August 17, 2014

East Coast Memorial Service and remarks from the rosary in San Jose

There will be a memorial  service to celebrate John's life on Saturday, August 30th at 11 am EDT. The service will be at:

Dougherty Brothers Funeral Home
595 Norwich Road
Plainfield, CT 06374

There will be a lunch reception following the service at:

The Spa at Norwich Inn
607 West Thames Street
Norwich, CT 06360

Please RSVP to Missy Plante at

Following the rosary and vigil on the 13th Melanie and I were asked to post the remarks I delivered. You will find them below.

One year, seven months and twelve days. Too short a time and yet in that period, from detection of his disease until his passing on Friday, John spent every day enjoying life and growing into manhood. A parent wonders as their child grows, “What kind of a person will he become?”  And in the normal course of events that parent might have to wait years to see if their effort to produce a moral person, a caring person, one whose attributes truly reflect conscience, compassion and competence, was fruitful. Yet somehow in this short time, the crucible of his disease accelerated his maturation into a kind, compassionate, generous man; a man that would make any parent, especially this parent, proud.

I have often remarked how amazed I have been at the manner with which he responded to his disease and its prognosis. That if it had been me, at the same age as John, there is exactly zero chance I would have responded with anything close to his equanimity.  And I know that his ability to persevere is truly a credit to his mother.

In the days since his first seizure, when his friends were with him as they prepared to play football and had to respond to that sudden crisis, to the final night when one of his cousins and one of his friends were with him, Melanie and I have had the wonderful opportunity to see just how much love there was in John’s life. His friends, whether from Little League, our Berryessa neighborhood, Harker Academy, Bellarmine, or Gonzaga, and his family of beloved cousins, were constantly by his side; encouraging him, celebrating the good times, sharing stories or sometimes just being with him quietly.  Their goodness and kindness showed us that he was truly blessed. 

We thank their parents for raising young men and women who unflaggingly gave of themselves to John’s care. We know you have had some very tough conversations with your own children, conversations mirroring our own, that often would involve the word “Why”. Your love and support in turn gave them the strength to support John. Your efforts will never be forgotten by Melanie or myself.

Melanie and I have seen, and felt, so much love.   However, we also have seen too much pain and confusion. In the final eighteen days while John was in hospice care, as the hope for a cure dissipated, the pain on the faces of his family and friends was palpable. This is a natural counterpoint to the greatest emotion, love.  But we would never feel pain if we never felt love. And the greater the love, then commensurately, the greater the pain.   This, being the case, then John was truly loved beyond measure.

Yet you cannot allow that pain to overwhelm you to the point of despair. I have seen some of you on the brink both in word and look. Despair is emptiness of hope. It is an emotion that John absolutely rejected, even on his worst day. We all must do our best to emulate John and always have hope.

A great friend of mine shared this quote when he heard we had entered hospice care. I think we should all take its promise to heart.

"Yet, by the grace of God, time takes its toll not only on youth and beauty, but also on tragedy. The tomorrows come almost against our will. And they bring healing and hope, new responsibilities and new possibilities.'' 


Sunday, August 10, 2014

In lieu of flowers

In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to one of these two charities.   As you know John loved his years at Bellarmine so he asked that donations be made there. The link is Bellarmine donations.

He also was very grateful to the team at the Robert Preston Tisch Brain Tumor Center for all of the support they provided. Donations can be made via John's Tumor Warriors at Duke donations

Thank you for your consideration.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Services in San Jose for John

There will be visitation hours for John at Darling-Fischer Garden Chapel, 471 E. Santa Clara St, San Jose on Wednesday August 13th from 4-9pm, with a Rosary at 7 pm.

On Thursday, August 14th there will be a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Victor's Catholic Church, 3108 Sierra Road, San Jose at 10 am.  A reception to continue the celebration of John's life will be held afterwards.

In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to one of these two charities.   As you know John loved his years at Bellarmine so he asked that donations be made there. The link is Bellarmine donations.

He also was very grateful to the team at the Robert Preston Tisch Brain Tumor Center for all of the support they provided. Donations can be made via John's Tumor Warriors at Duke donations

There will be a memorial service and celebration held in New England so as to share the journey of John's life with his east coast family and friends. The date and time are TBD.  I will update the blog with the details as they emerge.

Friday, August 8, 2014

John's race is run

John passed away today, 8/8/14, at 2:40 am. He was in comfort at the end and had the company of friends and family.

Information regarding the services to celebrate his life will be posted as the conclusion to this blog.

I would be remiss if I didn't share this picture from Tuesday night when John was still lucid and enjoying life fully. We had hoped to have been in New England at this time to be with Melanie's family. The disease's progression prevented that but friends and family there ensured we had a taste of New England as compensation.  Here is John enjoying fresh lobster and oysters from Rhode Island.  He surely did enjoy the culinary delights.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

John's status 8/7/14

John's pain level transitioned to a new, higher level overnight. Hospice has modified his pain management regimen to accommodate this change. He is resting comfortably now but is sleepy.

As John moves into the final stages he will have a diminished ability to respond or interact. Ultimately he will slip into a coma and become non-responsive.

However I would encourage those who visit to speak to him in a quiet and soothing manner. Hearing is the last of the senses to go and the human mind can appreciate the presence of friends and family even if unable to respond.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

John's situation is evolving

John had an excellent day yesterday and I will put up some pictures on a later post regarding how Tuesday went, but today we are seeing further progression with his disease that impacts visitation.

Today saw a significant spike in his pain level which triggered a number of side effects which required our full attention. The hospice team has adjusted his medication to address the breakthrough pain and hopefully this will prevent another occurrence for a while. 

First I want to thank all of you that have either come to San Francisco while he was in their hospice care or those that have come to our home since last Friday.  John has enjoyed those visits thoroughly as I am sure you experienced. However, I expect those that saw him a week or more ago at UCSF, and then this week at home, have noted that he is increasingly drowsy and lethargic. 

John enjoys visits, especially from his wonderful friends from all over, as well as his beloved cousins. However one of the changes we want to apply to visitation is, that while we still encourage visitation, we may designate a day as a "quiet" day where we have limited to no visitors.  Additionally, even if  you have planned with us a visit it may turn out, as it did today for my aunt and cousins who came by, that not only was John unable to visit but we were tied up with his care. Luckily that part of the family can entertain themselves quite well :) I encourage all to check in via text or call to me (408) 712-4930 that it is still a good day to visit prior to coming over. 

I hope you all can understand our need to apply these constraints. Do not hesitate to come but do understand if we decline for a given day. We know that we have tremendous support from all of you, not only now, but all through the journey.  Your love, prayers and thoughts have been a salvation for our family.  Thank you.