Robert ‘Robby’ Van Dusen, 1962-2022

His last words to me were, “Very. Fung. Shway.”

It was a comment from Robby on a painting I had finished and posted to my social media site. Like everyone else, I had no idea it would be the final time I’d hear from him.

Before I get there, let me go here.

Fifty years before, we thought we had lost him. I say “we” because it was a small town, and our school was even smaller, so when tragedy struck, it felt like the world had crumbled on everyone.

Robby Van Dusen had drowned, was revived, and on life support. Reports were that he’d been in the water for over 20 minutes and that doctors had called time-of-death and were walking away when he coughed himself back to life.

It wasn’t his time back in the day, but that changed on Thu., May 5, when, for a second time, when doctors removed his life support. On that day, Robby returned home again.

Once he returned to school, Robby seemed slower than the other kids. He had to relearn to eat, walk, and talk before being released from the hospital.

While it seemed unfair and hard to watch Robby struggle, he was at peace with it all. He would later say that he had seen Heaven, a claim that elicited snickers and unmerciful teasing.

A few days ago, Robby fell off a ladder, breaking his pedicle, or partes interarticulares, of his axis vertebra, or the second cervical vertebra. The process is colloquially known as a ‘hangman’s fracture.’

At times like this, I tend to question God’s judgment, asking Him, what is the effing point?

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