Over Easter weekend I learned that one of my closest long-time friends, David, died on April 4, at the age of 49. He would have turned 50 on April 17. I don’t know for certain, but I believe he’d succumbed to esophageal cancer. I had spoken with him briefly last month when he told me he planned to visit a doctor. He had trouble swallowing and – mostly shocking – weighed only 114 pounds at the time. He later informed me that an X-ray showed his esophagus was bent and that his doctor had referred him to a gastroenterologist who referenced cancer. That’s what I had thought, when he mentioned the initial X-ray findings. The gastroenterologist wanted to rush him into surgery. Afterwards I never heard from him again. I had thought of calling him, when I decided to check that most ubiquitous of sources: Facebook. That’s when I found out about his demise.
Damn! And he didn’t have the decency to tell me. You know…that’s kind of rude.
The news hit me especially hard because Easter weekend marked the first anniversary of the death of another close friend, Paul, who died after a year-long bout with liver cancer at the age of 55. His death was considerably different in that I had been in constant contact with him and saw the end looming over the horizon.
I also saw the end with another friend, also named David, before his death in 1993. That was the first time I’d actually lost a close friend to death, and it impacts me to this day. People have always accused me of being too sensitive; in that I don’t often let things go. That’s true to an extent. I had a tendency to hold grudges. But it’s tough to let go of the death of a close relative or friend.
David went quick, though. According to one of his friends, the cancer was too advanced for doctors to do anything. And I got mad again. That’s just like a man! Waited until the last fucking minute to take care of himself! That’s so old school. Men of my father’s generation did shit like that! David was almost a whole decade younger than me.
Several years ago I watched a program on the lives of very old people; those who’d lived beyond 90 and how they managed to sustain themselves. Aside from good genes and a positive outlook on life, they all seemed to have one pertinent thing in common: their ability to deal with the death of others around them. As sad as it is to lose a loved one, we have to understand that it happens. Some things may last forever, but no person can – at least not in this world. Our capacity to accept that helps us move forward with our own lives.
So, as difficult as it’s been these past few weeks, I’ve had to accept David is gone. My greatest consolation is that he’s not suffering anymore.
Good night, my friend. I’ll miss you, but I’m glad you have begun your next journey in life. As with everyone else I’ve lost, I hope to see you on the other side.
David in his natural element – with an animal