I was saddened and shocked when I heard on the radio that Beau Biden lost his battle with brain cancer on Saturday. Saddened because I knew, through years of reading about him, what a good man Beau was -- a father, a son, a brother, a friend, a patriot. I was shocked for a different reason: I was driving to visit my friend Bob Rubin, who had also been battling brain cancer. Even though I'd seen Bob just a few days earlier, his wife Melissa let me know I might want to come and see him again on Sunday. Bob's health had been declining quickly, lately. Probably, this time was to say goodbye.
And on Monday, just a day after I'd heard the terrible news about Beau, Bob passed away, too. In my grief, I see Beau and Bob as two extraordinary men, strangers linked by one terrible fate, like the brave passengers on Flight 93.
For Bob, one day he was fine, and the next he noticed some words weren't coming out right, and then he couldn't hold his pen. And then, the doctors told him: Bob, you have a brain tumor.
That was a year ago. When I saw Bob, he told me that he would do everything he could to beat it, although the chances were slim. He told me that he wasn't afraid for himself; but he wanted to live for Melissa, and for Charlie. We both cried a little thinking about the reality of that.
Over the past twelve months, I have seen Bob undergo brain surgery, and radiation, and chemo. And he did it all with grace, and bravery, and courage, and a trust in the universe that I have seen in few people. I'll bet you that Beau was the same kind of guy.
Beau and Bob were both at peace and surrounded by family when they passed. And like Beau, who left his wife Hallie, and two young children, Natalie, 11, and Hunter 9, Bob left his wonderful wife Melissa, and his son Charlie, 14.
I cannot imagine the pain and heartbreak of Joe and Jill Biden and their family. In a statement, they said, "Beau Biden was, quite simply, the finest man any of us have ever known." I am sure it is true.
As men go, Bob Rubin was a pretty good one, too. He was smart, and funny, and loving. He was kind and decent, in a world where kindness and decency are in short supply. When I was Charlie Rubin's age, I first heard these words of John Donne: Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. Now, I get it.
Beau and Bob. I mourn them both.