Like many people with interests slightly outside the mainstream, fans of comics, science fiction, and other nerdly pursuits often dream of finding that special someone who not only returns their love but shares their hobbies and interests. That was the case for Kevin "Wash" Pratt and Tashi King
, a young couple who met and married while introducing each other to their passions for things like science fiction, comics, and the works of Joss Whedon.
In a post on her blog
, the now 25-year-old Tashi recounts many of the details of their courtship: how the two huge Whedon fans spent their first date watching Serenity
together; how he introduced her to steampunk, Watchmen
, and Doctor Who
; how he understood and respected the way her Asperger Syndrome made her different; how they attended comic conventions where they met many of their idols, and how they finally proposed (mutually) to each other. Within weeks of their wedding, however, Kevin began to display symptoms of what they would later discover was a malignant brain tumor. Kevin was diagnosed gliobastloma multiforme, a particularly aggressive form of brain cancer that kills most patients within a year of diagnosis.
Tashi described their situation in a post on Regretsy
where she also reached out for help with a final and unusual request from husband:
My husband is one of the biggest geeks/Browncoat/Sci-Fi lovers I have ever had the privilege to know. He is also 27 years old and dying of a terminal brain cancer. He's managed hang on for 28 months with a cancer that kills more than 95% within 9-12 months. However, he has been degrading in his condition and was placed on Home Hospice Care in January of this year. I am writing to you to try and fulfill a wish of his; after he passes my husband wants to have a portion of his cremains kept in a TARDIS urn.
Tashi's financial means are limited, particularly as a full-time caregiver, but Regretsy has put out a call
for an artist or sculptor who can create the custom urn, and plans to pay for the work out of their own fund.
While there is no way of knowing exactly how much more time her husband has, Tashi estimates it at anywhere from three months to a few weeks, and says she hopes to find a way to fulfill his wish as soon as possible. Friends of Tashi and Kevin have also set up a donation site
, and are accepting funds for "rent, general expenses, end-of-life care, medical bills, and memorial costs."
A much longer account of their story that details their struggles with medical bills and health insurance is available at the Phoenix New Times
, which also recounts the episode that lead to Kevin's first hospitalization and diagnosis:
Later that night, the physician on duty summoned Tashi and asked her to sit down. He told her that Kevin had a "mass" on his brain, and that it was around eight centimeters... Kevin could die. It was all happening so quickly. And they were so very young. It was so weird sitting there in the hospital that morning, trying to fill out the requisite stacks of paperwork, trying to comprehend that this was their new reality. "This is my 23rd birthday," Tashi told herself, stunned. "This is my 23rd birthday."
, where "frak cancer" is a common refrain, also includes a pretty tear-jerking post
about her relationship with Kevin, which you can read the warning that unless your heart is made of stone, you may possibly cry.
You are the person I want to touch as I fall asleep every night. You are the person I want to speak my last words to every night, "I love you." You push me to keep living, every day. Even in the bad times, you are still my best friend. I will take happily every day I am allowed to wake up next to you, my love. For however long we get.
While tragic, stories like this can be valuable reminders not just how incredibly unfair life can be, but also how lucky most of us are to have our health and our loved ones, and how important it is not to take them for granted no matter how young we are or how invincible we feel. Whether or not you are moved or able to help the couple, consider taking a moment today to feel grateful for what you have, hug someone you care about, and remember that nothing is promised to any of us -- that "however long we get" in this world or with the people we love might not ultimately be as long as we think it will.