A goodbye to ‘Big Purm’

Even if you don’t stop to read the obituary page every day, it’s hardly a secret that people die from horrible diseases, that they’re taken too soon, and that life is inherently unfair.

For the most part we might stop to read a few lines, then move along because life goes on; that’s the nature of life.

Still, there is something about the death of Aaron Purmort last week that has affected the community in a way a death doesn’t usually, especially considering a lot of people touched by his life with cancer didn’t know him. Or, they’d never met but felt they did because of the Internet’s ability to grab hold of your heart when the words are just right.

At least 1,000 people showed up Wednesday evening at a Minneapolis office/warehouse for his service. And who knows how many thousands of others watched the live stream.

Some knew him. Some didn’t. The sense of loss didn’t depend on it because the Purmorts story was well and lovingly documented on his wife’s blog, My Husband’s Tumor.

His obituary, which he wrote, revealed that he was Spider Man, a superhero.

“He understood that telling his story… it was his recognizing that with great power comes great responsibility,” Nancy Lyons, the officiant at the service, said. “His superpower was showing us how to live fully and he lived up to that responsibility by doing it. He showed us that living isn’t one big heroic moment… it’s in the quiet simple, lovely happenings that also go unnoticed.
He was a super hero because everything he did was real.”

“He told me he wasn’t afraid to die,” Nora Purmort said. “He wasn’t afraid of dying, he just didn’t want to die.”

“The city is smaller and closer together because of Aaron,” she said. “The world is smaller and closer together not just because of how he died, but how he lived.”

“Come closer, come closer. You may never see a heart like this again,” she said.

Related: NPR interview with Nora McInerney Purmort