We will miss you LUIS!
Last night at 8:59 pm we lost a dear friend and family member. Our grief is bittersweet. Our hearts are breaking for his wife and three teenage daughters, yet we are relieved that our sweet superhero will no longer be in pain.
We met Luis about seven years ago through our daughter Holly and her husband Zach. They talked frequently about their manager who was full of life and love. When we met him we immediately knew we had a lifelong friend. He was an easygoing man with a great sense of humor who NEVER met a stranger.
When Luis was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer-GBM in 2012, that has no cure and a very low survival rate, he became Superman to all that knew and loved him.
We witnessed firsthand the impact he had on everyone he met at a fundraiser immediately following his diagnosis. The fundraiser started at 6 am at the Cheesecake Factory where Luis was a manager. Our daughter asked us to photograph the event for Luis and his wife Mary. When we arrived people were waiting for the doors to open so they could be first in line to visit with Luis. For an event that was only scheduled for two hours, it lasted for over four and the place was full the entire time. Luis and Mary talked to every single person there. The money raised was secondary to the love that was overflowing that day. Fred and I were honored to witness and document this on behave of our friends.
Luis survived the surgery and grueling treatments that followed only to have another run in with the ugly tumor that refused to go away, but once again Kryptonite would not prevail. Luis earned his Superman status by defying the odds again and lived each and every day to the fullest. This past year he celebrated his 40th birthday, enjoyed watching his beautiful daughters grow and flourish. He continued to relish in the love and support of his amazing earthly angel, his wife Mary, who never left his side. Their love story is a rarity and one that was an example to their daughters of how true love never wans and prevails through all the highs and lows, the ups and downs.
He never missed a birthday or event that involved our grandchildren Jack and Emma. He loved them with all his heart and they him. The news of Luis’ passing has hit our family hard, especially our little Jack and even though he is six I know the love Luis’ showed him will be a memory that Jack will carry forever.
I share this with you all because even in all his pain, battles and struggles he never wavered in his faith, and the strength he gave to others is something we have never witnessed in another person. He supported Fred and me on all of our Appalachian Trail Hikes and crazy adventures. Always sending us a message or a social media comment at just the right time. Fred and Luis talked at length about the mental toughness needed to hike 2,186 miles in comparison to his cancer battle, ours was a piece of cake. He and Fred shared many private conversations about his cancer and the ups and downs of his life. Luis provided Fred so much support in every aspect of his life and I don’t know if Luis ever fully realized how much Fred valued their friendship and the texts and messages Luis sent during his time on the trail and with his battle with Ehrlichia and Lyme.
In November we had the opportunity to take the Rodriguez’ family pictures a few days before Luis’ last surgery. We were all optimistic that he would survive as he had in the past. We kept the day lite and enjoyed every minute we could with this amazing family. I wanted so much to preserve this time forever. I wanted to freeze it and keep them all happy and carefree. Which is what we did for the short time we were together. And now looking at the images we captured I know that we gave them a few stress-free hours where the damn cancer was dominating their every waking moment. These pictures will be some of the most important images that Fred and I will ever take and for that, I am grateful to the family for sharing their precious time with us.
Today as I write this, my heart is breaking and the tears are flowing for those of us left behind, especially Mary, Maddie, Rosie and Bella. They are some of the strongest women I know. I know they will carry on Superman’s legacy with dignity, humor, and love.
Superman, you were a hero to many, but you didn’t think so. You always put God and your family first and today your reward is a place in heaven where you can watch over all of us that love you and we will forever cherish the time we had with you “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” Our dear friend, we know your bell will ring very very soon. May God Bless You and your beautiful girls.
Luis, you will always be in our hearts I thank you for your talks with Holly’s Dad!
Here’s to Now