Written by Brenda Forbes
How do you write about a man who loved so big, so unconditional, and so well, that his greatest wish was for all to experience it? Ray Forbes was aptly named, as he was “a ray of light” that magnified good all around him.
Ray was always happiest when he was serving others. In his journal, he wrote, “I am committed to serve those around me as I come in contact with them, so that I can inspire them with my light that shines from me. I will own my voice to speak from my heart and doing this will bring joy. And through love they will be inspired to change their lives … I love how it feels when I give of myself, I feel joy when I serve others, because I love seeing happiness in others.” He finished the entry with, “I am grateful for my health.”
|Ray and Brenda Forbes|
Ray was blessed with great health and was rarely sick. In the summer of 2013, I noticed subtle changes. By October, he was displaying more symptoms, and I sent him to the doctor. We discovered he had a rare condition, multiple arterial venous fistulas, and they were in the cerebellum, or back part, of his brain. The treatment was extremely risky.
We were advised to meet with family and discuss our options. Ray let us know he wanted the procedure the neurosurgeon recommended. After much shedding of tears and answering our children’s concerns, a date for his procedure was set. On Jan. 5, 2014, Ray entered my world, the world of health care.
During Ray’s procedure, complications arose and he spent 17 days in the ICU. It was the worst of times and the best of times. We had some beautiful moments as a family during this time. Ray and I connected in a more vulnerable way than ever before.
One night, when he seemed to be in the depths of confusion and fear, I sat at his bedside, holding his hand. He slept fitfully; during a brief respite, he opened his eyes wide and began scanning the room. He had been communicating by writing things down on a clipboard full of paper. He looked around the room with such wonderment, as though seeing it for the first time. He looked at me in the same manner, and then motioned for the clipboard. He began to write and this is the conversation we shared:
“Where is the family?” He writes.
I explain, “I sent them home.” His eyes get big and he writes, “Why?”
“So they can sleep; it’s 4 a.m. and they get to go home and sleep.” He nods.
“Why is it so white?” He writes.
I explain that he is in the ICU.
He points to my shirt and writes, “brown?” I say, “yes.”
He looks around the room with such wonder in his eyes, as though he can’t believe what he is seeing.
Then he looks at me with such tenderness in his eyes and writes, “Are you mine?” I say, “yes.”
“So beautiful,” he writes.
I smile and I thank him and we squeeze hands. He closes his eyes and rests for a bit, then opens his eyes.
“Are we alive?” He writes.
I say, “yes, we are still on this Earth and you get to stay here with me.”
He squeezes my hand and drifts back to sleep.
Ray yearned for world peace, and during an episode where we were trying to figure out what he wanted as he tried patiently to get us to understand his sign language and lip reading while on a vent, he finally grabbed for the clipboard and wrote, “I want world peace.” And within minutes of writing that, in walked Daniel Pettegrew, the founder of World Peace Gardens, to visit him and bring him a stuffed moose.
Ray survived the procedure and was able to go home, but could never get his strength all the way back, and six months later, he was rushed to ER with pancreatitis.
Ray knew that world peace began with the individual first. Each person must find peace within themselves, then be at peace with the environment, his family, his community, and so on. I loved how Ray loved this world. My beautiful man of light has passed from this life, but his light and desire for world peace lives on. My hope is that we may all yearn for world peace as much as Ray did.