MONTOURSVILLE, Pa. -- Gerry Ayers from Montoursville was diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer and recently stopped treatments
Given months to live, Gerry invited us to follow him on his journey.
He isn't doing this for recognition or pity. From the beginning, he made it clear he's sharing his story in hopes that people will start to talk about the reality of death, and in turn, become less afraid of it.
Gerry is no longer strong enough to speak with us on camera.
Like the weather overnight, Gerry's health has drastically changed.
For the first time, chaplain Bob Barner stopped by to talk and pray with Gerry.
In this story
A chaplain for over 20 years, Pastor Barner has spoken with hundreds of families and people who are coming to terms with death.
"For me, I use the term, 'wow.' I was on holy ground. This was them sharing, really, what was the essence of them. Others, it's kind of like superficial talk. You kind of sense, well, either they haven't really thought too much about this or it's too scary to talk about," said Barner.
Pastor Barner says many of those people talk with him about their fondest memories and their regrets.
"The facade that we put up isn't there, you know? So there is a whole other layer of, OK, we're not playing games here. We're communicating about where I'm at right now."
The chaplain says many who are passing wish they spent more time with family. Others hope to mend or come to accept broken relationships while there's still time.
"Our lives are so busy and we get pulled in all kinds of directions that we want to do that but we never quite get there to doing that, and maybe some of those conversations can't happen until the end because people aren't ready to listen," Barner added.
"Sometimes you got to cry," said Gerry's nephew Malcolm Ayers. "Honestly, it's a natural thing, you just go to let it out. if You show your emotions, people can help you with a specific thing. You don't just hold it in and you don't just go somewhere to die by yourself."
This isn't the first time the Ayers family has had to say goodbye to a loved one. The family lost their very young daughter Eleanor six years ago.
Now 13 years old, Malcolm Ayers remembers what it was like to say goodbye to his sister.
It may be part of the reason why he has decided to open his bedroom to his Uncle Gerry. He says he wants to be there by his uncle's side until the end.
"It's helping him as much as it's helping me 'cause it's just one more person to help guide him there and keep him happy for the rest of his life," Malcolm said.
As the snow blankets the ground, there is a sense of peace that has filled their home. Together as a family, Gerry and his family have begun to accept death while holding on to hope.