I first met Reed in the late '80s as we both attended high school in Bismarck, ND. From the moment I met Reed, I knew something was unique and special about the man. He had a great passion for the sports and even earned all-state honors. He always gave his all on the field or on the track.
A great quality that Reed possessed was he was always there for his family or friends and someone you could turn to at any point when they needed him. After high school, we went our separate ways keeping in touch during holidays/summer breaks from college. Reed decided he wanted to pursue a career that was focused on helping others, he decided to pursue a career around prosthetics and graduated in 1997. This is the point in time where our paths would intersect as we both had accepted jobs in same city. We decided to become roommates and we lived in this manner for the next seven years until I asked my wife to get married. Reed was the only person I told about my intentions to get engaged and he was thrilled when we got married. He was equally thrilled five years ago when we were blessed with a baby boy who is now the focus/joy of my wife and I.
Reed and I shared many vacations together, many trips to concerts, ball parks, etc. over the years. In fact, besides my wife, he was the person I spent a majority of my time with and was always someone I knew exactly what was going on his life as he did mine. I guess that embodies how you would define a best friend. Going back a bit from the earliest days I met Reed, he was always looking for THE ONE; as he grew older, he looked forward to settling down and finding the right person to marry and start a family. I was there the evening when he did find that perfect match and he pursued it with full zeal and energy. It was at this time, that I had never seen my friend so happy and we were so glad that he had found that person. We talked about the future we would have together as friends growing old and watching our kids participate in various activities.
This type of talk got derailed approximately four years ago when Reed, his new girlfriend, my wife and I were planning a vacation to Cabo. We had made the same trip the previous year with just the three of us; Reed was extremely excited to bring his new girlfriend to the same location. Everything was set, we were getting ready to leave in a few weeks when Reed started noticing pain in his side and he decided to get it checked out. What they found were cancerous tumors (stage 4), it might have been gestating for close to 10 years and now was spreading in his body. They immediately performed surgery to remove what they could and started a vigorous battle of chemotherapy.
During those months of chemo, Reed never let it slow him down; we golfed, went to ball games, watched football and attended concerts. His girlfriend did not waver and stood by his side through everything. About a year after the original diagnosis, we did make that trip to Cabo along with 20 to 30 other close friends/family to watch Reed get married on the sands. He gave a speech thanking everyone, especially his bride who he credited with saving his life. To Reed meeting her and finally finding that person was the quest he had in life; Reed's dream at that point was to beat this shitty disease and start a family.
Unfortunately in December of that year things turned for the worst and treatment was no longer having an effect on the cancer that had spread; in home hospice was recommended. In the final days, he spent it surrounded by friends and family talking about the things he loved such as local sports (NDSU Bison) and music (Pearl Jam). A few days prior to Xmas, Reed passed away at the age of 39. He would have celebrated his birthday that New Year's Eve if he could have made it another week. At his funeral, we put together a video composed of all the things he loved and friends from all over came to pay their respects. The first person to talk at his wake was a young girl who I hadn't noticed had a prosthetic limb and she talked about how Reed had been there for her from the moment she lost her leg years early in an accident and how he gave her strength when she was at her lowest. It was at this point that it really hit me how this one man had touched so many people through his work and friendship.
Here is where some good news enters this story. During Reed's treatment, it was explained it could leave him sterile. He and his wife decided it would be best if they made efforts to take actions prior to this happening and visited a sperm bank. A few months after the passing of Reed, his wife decided that it was important that she at least attempt to fulfill their shared dream of a child and try in vitro fertilization. She decided it was worth whatever financial obligation and time it would take to try to see if this could happen. I am happy to say that this past year, Maxwell Reed Mueller was born roughly a year and a half after the passing of his father. We couldn't have been more overjoyed to knowing how happy this would make Reed. To see the pictures of baby Maxwell, you may think he is the happiest baby in world... or maybe he sees an angel in the room.
Rest in Peace Reed, you are not forgotten.