Thursday, November 29, 2012

When the good things come to an end ...

If there are good reasons why some people die and others live I would love to know what they are.  Too often in my experience it isn’t just the good people, but the best people who seem to go young.  With too much of life before them they’re gone.  I have to admit, it makes me wonder.

Don Rhymer is such a man.  Giving without needing thanks.  Funny, but always in a self effacing way.  I wish I’d known him longer.  Knowing him made me a better person.  He’d hate hearing that.  It’s how he was wired.  It was never about him.

Just a day ago or so my friend Don lost his battle with cancer.  In the end he was with his family and his closest friends.  Everyone says it is better that he is gone.  In one sense it is.  His suffering is ended.  In another sense it isn’t.  Death is so final.

Don would say we’ll see him again and I believe that.  He was that good a man.  If there is a heaven Don is there.  No question about it.  I think though that somehow he’s probably still thinking about us.  Looking down and wanting to give, help, laugh, touch, listen, live.  That's the way Don lived his life.  If there is a way to help, Don will find it.  That’s how he is.

Sadly, the power of life and death was not bestowed on me.  Mine is simply to wonder.  I know though that if I am to truly honor Don then what I need to do is stop focusing on this thing that I can’t change and start finding the things I can.  Don found humor in the worst of circumstances.  From the depths of his pain he also found and exhibited real love.  There are lessons in that and, perhaps, it is these lessons that I am meant to ponder.

I nearly always say at the end of these things that what’s next is what’s important.  Today I don’t think that’s the case.  Just for now, what’s past is what’s important.  I can leave what’s next for tomorrow.

Goodbye my friend and thank you for the time we shared.  I’ll miss you along the way and will love and help those you loved as best I can.  It’s what I know you would have done for me and, I guess, that’s going to have to be enough.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

An Update for Don's friends.

My friend Don is battling cancer.  Many of you know him and many only know him through the blog he keeps, “Let’s Radiate Don,” a sometimes hilarious, always poignant account of his battle.

Lately things haven’t gone as well as anyone would like.  Most especially Don, and right next to him Kate, his lovely and amazing wife and of course, right behind them their equally wonderful children.  Don and Kate and their kids are known to many, many people and we all want to help.

It’s hard isn’t it?  At least it is for me.  What can I do?  How can I help?  It’s especially hard when the fact is that there isn’t much to do.  I am not equipped to give the help that is needed.  

For those who want to know how Don is doing I will tell you that he is resting comfortably and he has been with the people he loves the most, his family and his very close friends.  He isn’t in much pain and he is able to converse at times and not as much at others.  I don’t think he would want to share much more than that.  It’s funny.  When we really think about it, we don’t need to know much more than that do we?

Kate is also with her family and with her closest friends, including, much of the time, Don.  Classically, one of her big points of stress is an inability to answer all of the loving offers of help she gets via text, voicemail and email.  I think she wants those who know her to know that she knows you are there and she is grateful and she needs time and space, if for nothing else than just to give as much of both to Don at this point as she can.

We never know quite what to do in these times do we?  Prayer seems such a hapless pastime.  Is God really there?  Does He really care?  Don would say yes.  Perhaps that should be enough for all of us.  What His response will be is, as in all things, up to Him.  That is not a reason not to pray.

I also know Don well enough to know that the last thing he would want is for everyone he knows to be sitting around worrying about him.  If you truly want to help I think he would say, find an excuse to laugh.  Hug someone you love extra hard.  If you need a little encouragement read one of his classic blog posts about his oncologist who hated him (but turned out ok) or swallow therapy.  

Don’s not gone.  He’s here among us.  He’s fighting. What tomorrow will bring is tomorrow’s business.  For today I choose to celebrate my friend and to say a prayer and focus love and strength on Kate and Dave and Kathy... And it’s my birthday, I should get at least one special wish.