William Gene "Bear" Duncan
DOB: 1/17/46 - - - - -Death: 1/14/96
Entered Service Nov. '67
SF Title: Med Spec
In Country dates: Oct. 69' - Oct. 70
Awards: Purple Heart, 2 Silver Stars
Married to Robyn Slayton, 2/Sept. '95
1 Stepdaughter, Katy
Lived in Northern Arizona for 23 years
Degree in Education, unused
Heavy Equipment Operator for Coconino County, Arizona, 15 years


Whitewater Boatman Extrordinaire, incredible husband, great stepfather, awesome MAN....loved life and lived it well because he knew how short it was.

Died of Metastasized Cancer, at home with close friends and family by his side.

We simply loved each other.  He was there for me, I for him.  No strings
were attached, our love had no conditions, no boundaries, no limits.  It
was extraordinary, powerful love.  We never once doubted the existence of
it; never took our love for granted.  It was as much a part of us as river,
red canyons, lakes and streams, mountain and desert and sky.  He was my
heart's blood, soul of my soul, bone of my bone.  And oh, he was brave.  He
went on, doing the best he could possibly do under uncontrollable
circumstance.  Courage--defined by going ahead and  walking through your
fear when the outcome is unbearable, when it is the very last thing you
want ever to do.  My husand went beyond, well beyond the normal bounds of
human courage at the end of his life.  Now there is an empty cavernous
place in my heart, nd it is shaped like Bill. My loss is mountainous, my
despair seems bottomless.  How do you let go of a love you've looked all
your life for, and just found? But one hope remains--this is what we have
to do in order to heal:  the love we have for this great man, the love he
had for all of us, we must now share with each other.  He will always,
then, live within that.

A few months ago, he and I, discussing such things as spouses do, found
ourselves in a conversation about how we wished to be remembered after
death.  He told me then he wanted to be acknowledged as a good man. I
believe we all will remember him as an awesome, incredible, amazing, good
man.

My beautiful husband finished the job my mother started long ago--the
existence of unconditional love-for me.  Because of this, I was able to
give back to him the same unconditional love.  Thank you, my soulmate, my
love, my gentle warrior.

And now. He drifts ahead of us on the river, just around the bend.  It is
late afternoon, the water shines pewter  on the surface, the current swirls
and eddies around his boat.  A canyon wren's call falls down from cliffs
above, silver scales in the twilight.  His boat grates on the sand, he
ships his oars, ties the bowline, set up camp, watches the stars pinpoint
the sky one by one.  We are behind him on the water-but we are coming.  We
will see his fire on the shore, see the light he made for us.  And we will
join him there.
 

What follows is a journal entry from his wife, Robyn's journal, just before he died:

1/5/96

He says he is feeling stronger and stronger. But I see him changing daily in front of me. Weak, unsteady. His back, so strong and thick with muscles is thin now. I love him and can only touch and kiss and stroke this man of mine, mate,warrior. I have done all I can do.

Something has shifted within me. I feel strangely at peace...perhaps resigned to the fact this is all I can do and it is out of my hands. I am not convinced I'll be OK away from him but it doesn't seem to matter any more. Nothing seems to matter but Bill, his spirits, his comfort, his needs. And that is enough. We-he and I-have moved full circle-from friends, to lovers, to mates and partners, to spouses. Now we don't make love. We sleep with t shirts on. We talk, we are near each other. Bonded, but like a couple married 50 years would be. He did say we had packed about 20 years of marriage into two or three, and we were strong, and there for each other. And deeply, totally, viscerously in love.

He is so tired now. I do cry inside for my husband-where he is-where did he go? For the man he was, the man I fell in love with, the man who lifted me into his arms at Green River dock in August '93 and never let go again. But the man I see now, in front of me now, is awesome. Hanging onto his life with every fiber and shred of his awareness of self. Still hopeful, still growing, still thinking, not beaten down at all. Smiles at me when I come through any door. Makes jokes. The hospice brought in a pillow for him, foam rubber, shaped oddly. He said it
looked like a bedpan. He was right-it looked silly. He leers at me getting
dressed.

My love-we haven't had a year of marriage-but we seem to have had, oddly, a full life together. If all cancer cells have a date on them-when they win-then perhaps the universe sped things up for Bill and I so our bond, our strength, would be welded in months, not years as most marriages do.

He will always be with me, always there. Because the hole in my heart is
shaped like Bill.

rs