Monday, June 08, 2009

Two Weeks, At Most

I visited a friend Monday afternoon. He had been treated for cancer of the throat and, while it was very serious, things were going well: a combination of chemo and radiation was working well and there was hope for the future. Scoreboard: Meds 1, Cancer 0.

Then the disease rallied and it was Cancer 2, Meds 1.

Monday, it was Cancer 10, Meds 0 and less than two weeks to live. The person who had been an ordinary, healthy and happy person was now bedridden, barely able to talk (and just about impossible to understand), most likely holding on until his children could arrive from Wisconsin on Wednesday. Then, all bets are off.

Recognize him? Not a chance. Not by looks, not by speech, not by mannerisms. It was hard to look at him, to speak with him and talk about the elephant in the parlor: his imminent death. You don’t say, “How are you doing?” Or, “You seem to be looking a bit better today.” He knows what’s going on. “I hope your passing is peaceful.”

I’d have stayed away, except he asked to see me and be comforted by my words. I went because I don’t think loyalty is a big thing in my life; I went because I think loyalty is the only thing in my life. You stand by your friends, in good times and bad. You go when called if they are injured, sick or dying.

If not, you never were a friend; just an acquaintance.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


June 09, 2009 7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I'm not surprised about your thoughts on loyalty. In today's world, loyalty is often there if an only if it is expedient. True loyalty - the kind YOU display - is the best side of human nature. Unfortunately, it is often the best hidden. Stand by your friends, Tom - and know that your friends will stand beside you, too.

June 11, 2009 10:27 AM  

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