In Memoriam

I just got some sad news.

Larry Kowalski was our next-door neighbor when my family first moved to San Luis Obispo when I was three. Twenty-five years later, he changed our lives by telling us about the kidney transplant study he underwent at Stanford Hospital. On his advice, we contacted Stanford and my mom and I ended up being part of the same program, whose goal was to potentially keep kidney transplant patients off immuno-suppressant drugs. Larry was the program's poster child, as he was living healthy and drug-free post-transplant.

Before and after my mom's own transplant, Larry provided her with incredible support, giving her comfort with his boundless energy and stories of success. They talked on the phone for hours, gossiping about their doctors and talking "kidney talk." He was her go-to person for any questions or fears that needed allaying, and he was always there when we needed him.

I most recently saw him at my parents' house a few months ago, excitedly chatting them up about manufacturing clocks in China (just one of many projects he always had up his sleeve).
When my mom called to tell me about an hour ago that Larry had suffered a fatal heart attack while riding in a bike tour in Italy, I was surprised by my emotion. I'm still crying. I didn't know Larry well. When I was kid, he was just another grown-up living next-door, and when he moved to another house on the block, I didn't think much about him at all. Then my brother started working at one of his restaurants, and his presence came back into view a bit. Who would have thought that within a few years, our futures would be so interwined? When my mom got sick, he was truly like a guardian angel to us.

As my mom said, "He always lived like there was no tomorrow," which is evidenced by every aspect of his full life. I am devastated for his family, and the community that was bolstered by his positive spirit.

Our family has lost a friend.

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