Three different types of cancer. He overcame two, then the third struck him.
He’s actively on feeding tubes. His voice is small and muddled by his closed throat. His eyes look distant yet present. A shell of himself.
On my way to our meeting, I stopped at a place to get him flowers. I found beautiful yellow roses that were turning orange-red at the tips. The lady florist added sunflowers. I never get anyone flowers, except for family. I even threw in a “Get Well” balloon with a smiling sun around the cheery front. For this man, who mentored me since high school, who has gotten me so many lunches and patiently listened to my wild stories… who was the first person to take me out into public after my mental breakdown. He did not care about my nearly shaved head and difficulty walking due to my meds. He did not care about my absentmindedness or hardship finding the words.
He has been a true friend.
Today, while I sat across from him I felt like this was my Tuesday’s with Morrie moment (book, not movie).
But I didn’t ask about the meaning of life or if he believes if there is life after death. Instead I listened to his trials and tribulations right now. In his physically diminished state I finally saw him as a man, just like any man: mortal. He was always larger than life to me. Someone who has truly watched me grow emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Today I finally had the chance to return the favor. I listened to his many health battles since last year, and yet we were able to laugh. I shared how his advice to “be myself and they will come” in regards to men and romantic relationships has always confused me. That I do the exact opposite, I rush them like a one-bull stampede. He looked in my soul and said “There’s no rush. It will happen. Give it time.” He has always had an incredible ability to anchor me with pieces of wisdom that transcend human defined time.
I hope he calls and takes me up on my offer to drive him to a doctor’s appointment. Or to go on a joyride with his little dog.
I love you, H., and thank you for everything. I hate that God has nearly taken your voice and made it impossible for you to eat without a tube. I hate that you overcame cancer twice before but now you have a cancer so bad they won’t pretty it up with a chance at recovery. Incurable. I pray you have a magnificent recovery or a peaceful end. You’re 70 years older than me, but I know in a way, we are dancing this path of life eternally, as friends.