Friday, February 13, 2009
This is a case of my friend who was just diagnosed of Esophageal Cancer. He is also suffering from underlying hypertension and severe migraine. Aside from this physical pain that he is inflicted with he is carrying a baggage of living alone. After 2 divorces that left him broke and devastated, he had promised to himself never to get married again. He is 62 and he has been alone for 21 years now. He is the second of the 3 brothers, their youngest died of heart attack 5 years ago. Practically, he is living all by himself. I met him 3 years ago in the golf course and since then we became good friends. We became really close this year because we got the chance to play golf every weekend. After playing, we would sit in the clubhouse to eat and talk. Sometimes we'll spend the whole afternoon strolling down the old town Manassas. He told me stories of his childhood in Ohio and how Christmas Story movie touched him because that was exactly how it was when they were kids. He finds himself in the character of that young brother who could not get up after falling down in the snow because his snow jacket was so stiff and so heavy for a kid his size and age. He told me about his plans after he retires; tour the world, building a house with pool and big yard in Hill Country, Texas, an organic garden in his backyard, an outdoor kitchen where he can have barbecue anytime he wants because he is crazy about barbecue...
All his plans are just a heartbeat away when he finally retired last Jan. 16, 2009. He was just so relieved not to deal anymore with the pressures and stress of a high profile job in Washington DC where he drives 25 miles everyday and which he had been doing since he moved to Virginia from Dallas, Texas 18 years ago. In Jan. 18, 2009 early in the morning, he drove to Texas with all the dreams and plans he held for so long and close in his heart. I was so happy for him that finally, he was on his way to finding those dreams...But three weeks ago, he called to tell me that he got an appointment with his doctor that day and told him the dreading news that he has cancer. I was so shocked then but I was even depressed today when he told me about the stage of the disease and the options available to him.
In a matter of minutes, I heard a man with amazing courage, grace and dignity in the face of the most challenging kind of existence and the most frightening kind of future. His doctor told him what they could do is for him to undergo a major operation where the doctor will remove his esophagus, take half of his stomach, make his new esophagus out of it and then he will eat baby food for the rest of his life. He told me this is never going to be an option he is going to take. He'd rather deal with whatever treatment available to subside the pain and just face death when it comes. My heart bleeds for this funny, vibrant, razor-sharp person who became my loyal friend and confidante. I am silently crying for him, for all his dreams and plans of a happy retired life; now left on hold. He really deserves to be happy after working so hard and a heartbroken past. Isn't it so cruel that you have worked hard and saved all your life in order to build a stable future and just when you are ready to make them all happen, you'll find death lurking at your door?
He remains so externally focused and completely in the moment. But of more significance was the lesson he unknowingly is giving everybody around him in how to prepare for a good death. By not changing. keeping courage, continually affirming that life with all its sorrow is good, and knowing that you don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now.
While it now may not be possible to see and talk to him anytime, to play golf with him, it is still possible to love him. I do and always will. I am praying for him. Please pray for him too...
His name is Ron.
Posted by Amie at 2:21:00 PM