Leukemia is a nasty, horrible disease; even in periods of remission, Robert couldn't be around people much due to his weakened immune system, meaning the only time I ever saw him was late in the afternoon or in the evening, when he'd come into the office to get the stuff he needed to work from home. He was always accompanied by his devoted wife, Victoria.
When I did speak to Robert, he was always exceedingly polite and welcoming--much more pleasant than I probably would have been under the same circumstances. He always seemed, well, happy. I am sure there were times his countenance was darker, but I never witnessed one of those times.
I can't help but remember several occasions when he'd wander by Chris Limberis' desk--which is right outside my office door--and the two would discuss their common disease. While there was some occasional complaining, they usually compared notes in an upbeat, joking way. I mean, these two relatively young men had leukemia, and I'd see them laughing about it, for crying out loud.
Forgive me if I am not laughing much right now. As I look out my office door at what was Chris' desk, it makes me rather heartsick that they're both gone.
Robert Burge died Saturday, Jan. 7. He was 59 years old.