Today, Rush Limbaugh made the absolutely stunning announcement that he has stage four lung cancer.

My reaction was instant: How in the world could I ever get by without Rush Limbaugh in my life?

I first heard Rush on the radio in June of 1989, about nine months after he started. I was 19 and about four years into developing my conservative political thoughts.

That Summer was already memorable because I joined a construction crew to try and make as much money as possible for studying abroad. The construction company knew I was a “college boy” and gave me the worst possible jobs they could find.

My first assignment for the Summer was drive to this rural field with a huge water pump. When I got there, there was a huge field divided only by the road I was using.

On one side of the road, there was a bunch of standing water. It looked like a small lake. The other side was dry. My assignment: set up the pump and move all the water from one side of the road to the other.

For a while there, I thought it was a set up. It almost seemed like they made up the assignment just to mess with me.

So, I pulled over, dragged the pump out of the back of the truck and got it all set up. After a few tugs on the ole ripcord, the pump started up and started slowly moving to the other side.

It was about 8am in the morning, and my job was to sit there until the water was completely moved.

The truck, being an older vehicle, had only an AM radio band. So, I spent some time moving the dial back and forth. It was slim picking for hours, but then, all of a sudden, I struck gold.

The voice of Rush Limbaugh came booming over the airwaves and into the car. At this point, the show was only two hours (or the station only broadcast the first two hours… I’m not sure), but it became my favorite two hours of every day that Summer.

Rush Limbaugh saved me that Summer. And he’s been saving me ever since.

My worldview has always been that there’s another side to the conventional wisdom, but you have to know where to look to find it. This was before the internet, so finding alternative points of view took far more work then than it does now.

It’s always been easy to find the liberal point of view. At least in my lifetime. The nightly news was always with liberal bias, as was most of the newspapers. My Dad had exposed me to the back three pages of the Wall Street Journal, which, at the time, was the best conservative source for news. Until Rush…

Rush would always talk about the stories of the day, but with the extra information that the media omitted. The media has always been biased, but the source of bias was the information the didn’t share, not the information they did.

Listening to Rush filled in the blanks on the regular news and gave you the information they didn’t. And, of course, he gave the conservative perspective.

But perhaps more importantly, he lampooned the hell out of liberalism and added an amazing, clever, and biting wit. And he was unabashedly confident, with “talent on loan from God.”

My sense of humor is, and has been, very similar to Rush. I’ve never been afraid to speak confidently about my talent, just because I knew people didn’t expect it and they didn’t know what to do with it. So it came out funny, as intended.

Over the years, Rush has helped many a conservative weather liberal storms like the Clinton presidency, the Obama presidency, and 30 years of Republican Party spinelessness and marketing ineptitude.

About 15 years ago, I was having dinner with my mother and father-in-law in New York. They are both New York Times-reading liberals, though they try to be thoughtful about it.

They asked me, if I could invite one person to dinner, who would it be. I thought for a long time, because I think it’s an interesting, if not cliched, question.

My honest answer then was, as it is now, Rush Limbaugh.

Of course, my friends and family couldn’t be more important to me. They’ve been with me and supported me through ups and downs.

So no offense to the majority of them when I say, if (or when) Rush Limbaugh leaves this life, it is going to be too big of a hole to fill. We’ve been together for longer than only my family and a few friends. He’s seen me through so much and inspired me so many times.

I’ll never be able to give back to him as he gave to me, but wherever he is, he should know just how important he is to me and this entire country. If one man personifies everything this country is about, it’s Rush Limbaugh.

May God bless you, Rush. And may God bless this country.