Last updated June 2013.

A letter regarding the passing of David Mrazek
Written by Peter Jensen

Life Member LogoHello, friends and colleagues. A note, knowing that many of who knew and cared about David: I wanted to let you know personally... David passed away just a short 48 hours ago, Monday afternoon after battling cancer for over a year. Pat and their daughter Alissa were at his bedside, as was I in his final moments. It was beyond words.

A memorial service and celebration of David's life will be held on the weekend of September 7-8, 2013, in Rochester, Minnesota. David's wife Pat and their children have planned the event several months out, in order to make it more possible for those wishing to attend. She'll be making more details available in the near future.

I know that David, but also Pat and their children have been, and are grateful for your well wishes and expressions of love and support throughout this difficult period.

Pat has indicated that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made in David's name to establish an award fund recognizing outstanding research in psychiatric pharmacogenomics; these details are being worked out.

So, honoring David's memory, here's two stories about him that I'll tell:

Let me preface the first story by saying that during the 6 months that we've shared a home together (ever since the AACAP meeting), he was largely wheelchair bound, an aftermath of the cancer surgery in March 2012. But he still took a few steps each day with a walker, and once a week went with Pat to a glioblastoma "survivors group" as well as intermittent trips to the doctor. In addition, he worked hard each day with a rehap therapist in the home, who got him out of bed. In the evenings we often had dinner together, where we shared stories of our families, careers, etc., always with a fine wine. But mostly, I learned a lot about David, Pat, and their 4 amazing children. In particular, I learned "up close" what an extraordinary father David was to his children. As a family, they had gone to many places throughout the world, including a fairly recent trip down the wilds of the Amazon river. While they all had their own unique experiences, plus many shared experiences as "the kids", it was easy to see the powerful common thread running through all of their childhoods: David and Pat were exceptional, loving, and gentle teacher-mentors to their children.

So understandably, since the cancer, David's and Pat's fondest wish was to return once more with the family to their home in Hawaii. David fought every way he knew how, with his doctor-son Matthew scouring the internet for all that could be learned about glioblastoma treatments. As a result, David received an experimental new treatment using David's own antibodies to the cancer, produced in vitro, and then reinjected back into the body.

But gradually, instead of becoming stronger, he became weaker. He was so sad when he learned that the cancer appeared to be growing. But more surgery and chemo were options that neither he nor Pat wanted, knowing the likely poor results and additional impairment in the aftermath. As he became weaker and weaker, he was eventually unable to stand, and could not even sit upright in the wheelchair. So his last 6 weeks were principally in bed.

To finish this long preface to the first story, as we all know, David was no chatterbox... he tended to be a man of few words, but when he did speak, we all listened, and he always had something important to say. But as time went on, he became a man of even fewer words. However, it also seemed that increasingly, the words were exceptionally well-chosen, and had even greater punch and power.

As he spent more and more time, lying only in bed, sleeping throughout most of the day, his energy slowing ebbing. Knowing about his lost Hawaii dream and other experiences he wanted but would not have, I was worried about how he was doing, in terms of his inner feelings.

So in a conversation several weeks ago, I pulled up a chair to his bedside, and being a man of many words I said, "David, how are you doing? What is this process like for you? Do you feel sad and depressed? Or do you feel like you are 'just waiting?' Or are you finding some peace throughout this?"

There was a very LONG pause, eyes closed....

And he opened his eyes and said, "'Peace' would be ambitious."

A more wry phrase I have never heard!

I told this story to Pat and their daughter Alissa yesterday, and we all both laughed and cried.

Second story:

I was in the room with David when he passed away on Monday, along with his wife Pat and daughter Alissa. It was a precious, tender moment. He had been in a coma for several days. During one of our dinners together I had learned from David and Pat and that he had sung John Denver's "Annie's Song" to her at their wedding 40 years ago.

Knowing that, but coincidentally with no knowledge beforehand that his final minutes were imminent, I asked his daughter Allisa to turn that song on, knowing what it meant to both of them. While it was playing, just a few minutes later he died in Pat's arms, fulfilling these wishes expressed below, but 4 decades earlier.

Annie's Song

You fill up my senses - Like a night in a forest
Like the mountains in springtime, Like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert, Like a sleepy blue ocean...
You fill up my senses - Come fill me again

Come let me love you, Let me give my life to you
Let me drown in your laughter, Let me die in your arms
Let me lay down beside you - Let me always be with you
Come let me love you - Come love me again

You fill up my senses - Like a night in a forest
Like the mountains in springtime, Like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert, Like a sleepy blue ocean...
You fill up my senses - Come fill me again

Hope you and your families are well. None of us has an absolute or inviolable warranty!

Peter