Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Beating Cancer

My friend has died.

Jim was sick for a little over a year, but still his death was shocking and seemed far too swift. Even after he made the decision to stop the treatment, the reality of his death seemed like a distant thing. A future thing. Something to think about later.

Of course, for him, I'm sure it was anything but swift. And neither he nor Kate had the luxury of thinking about it later. They had to think about it every second of every minute of every day. They have two small children who need to be provided for, and for their sake, Jim and Kate had to plan for a life without Jim. Such a thing is almost beyond my comprehension.

He died Monday, in his sleep, peacefully, his beloved Kate by his side. Thank God for that. He deserved a dignified and noble death, and if cancer didn't grant him that, at least it let him go without exacting an extra pound of flesh. Jim was not afraid and he was not beaten. He was done letting cancer have it's way with him, and he left this world behind on his own terms.

I am so very saddened by the loss of him, though we haven't seen them for some time.

When I first met Jim, he was so quiet that I wondered if maybe he had problems with social interaction. But I soon learned that it was just Jim's way. And I soon learned that his diffidence hid a keen intelligence and a very ribald sense of humor. For a long time, he simply listened quietly to the general chatter and then, during a lull in the conversation, he broke his silence and said something so incredibly clever and funny that I was taken aback. I hadn't thought he was a dullard, exactly, but I never expected such wit from someone so reserved.

We used to play the game Tabboo, and Jim's definitions were always the best. He always won, partially owing to the fact that he could keep a completely straight face when his definition was being read. It was quite a blow to my ego, as I had previously been the reigning champion. But I couldn't be too disgruntled. Jim was a gracious winner.

When Jim and Kate asked me to be their doula for the birth of their first child, I was truly touched by their faith in me. I was just starting out, and in fact, Rachel's birth was only my third. I almost missed it, because the early stages of Kate's labor went by mostly unnoticed by her. I know, it's terribly unfair, isn't it??

When I arrived at the hospital after a 40 minute drive, through much of which I was mostly asleep, I had to fight my way past a formidable black nurse who crossed her massive forearms and stated, "You can't come in, there's a woman giving birth in here."

"I know that!" I snapped at her. "I'm the doula. I'm supposed to be in there!"

Jim called out something from Kate's bedside and the unsmiling woman grudgingly stepped aside.

Kate was lying on her side, curled into the fetal position. Jim crouched at her side, gripping her hand. He glanced at me briefly, and then his eyes returned to Kate. They never left her again. Because of the precipitous nature of her labor, an epidural could not be administered. She would be giving birth without any pain relief.

"I can't do it Lambchop! I can't!" she cried.

His voice was calm and steady when he answered her. "Yes you can. We'll do it together. You can do it."

And because his strength was her strength, she did.

After a cuddle with Kate, Rachel was taken to the warming station to be bathed and such. I assured Jim that Kate would be just fine and he reluctantly left her side to be with Rachel. The nurse, after completing all the customary procedures, handed Jim the tiny pink bundle.

Jim was a swarthy guy. If it hadn't been for the twinkle in his eyes and his incandescent grin, he could have easily looked menacing. But he also looked strong and full of life. When he held her, skin all roses and cream against his darkness, his youth and vigor was magnified. He looked invinceable. And he looked utterly besotted with his daughter.

Once, at a cook-out, when Rachel was just starting to walk, I was playing with her, holding her hands as she plodded plumply in that stiff and awkward baby way. I glanced up and saw Jim's gaze upon us, upon her, really. He wore the experssion of one who is utterly entranced and enamored.

They moved away two years ago, and we have kept in touch. But circumstances have not allowed us to see them since then. Husband and I have not had to witness the wasting of his body, or see the ravages cancer has perpetrated on his soul. For us, it has maybe been easier.

Because we, I, can remember him in moments like those that he gazed upon his firstborn child. Ungaurded and unabshedly in love. Vibrant. Alive.

Jim was a wonderful man in so many ways, but above all, he was a loving and devoted father and husband.

I don't mourn for Jim, really. He is free now, and I know his spirit is smiling. I mourn for those left behind to deal with the loss of him. I mourn for Kate and the children. I try to imagine myself in Kate's shoes, and the only thing I can imagine is feeling lost. But she has been so strong. She, this time, has been the strength.

Just as with birth, together they faced down death. Together, they said SCREW YOU CANCER.

Jim, it was an honor to know you. Godspeed, to wherever your soul finds peace.

Kate, all of our love to you and Rachel and Jake. You have been an inspiration and an example to all of us. If ever, God forbid, I should find myself in a similar situation, I hope I will handle it with as much grace and courage as you have shown.

Jim has beaten the cancer. Forever.

34 Comments:

  • At 9:23 AM, Blogger sheilah said…

    I am so sorry.

    SCREW YOU, CANCER!

     
  • At 9:46 AM, Blogger Buffy said…

    I'm sorry. For you...and for Jim's family.

     
  • At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Organic Mama said…

    I am so sorry for your loss. You are an eloquent and elegant elegist and once again, you have moved me to tears of compassion.

    Screw you CANCER a millionfold.

     
  • At 10:46 AM, Blogger flutter said…

    Rest well, beautiful man. And screw cancer, right in the ear.

     
  • At 11:42 AM, Blogger mamatulip said…

    This is a lovely tribute to an amazing man. My thoughts are with you and his family; my deepest condolences.

     
  • At 12:11 PM, Blogger Keli said…

    That was beautiful. I was a friend of Jim's from college and you summed up his whole person in your eloquent words. Thank you for letting me read and mourn for Kate and their children with you.

    Screw you cancer, right where it counts!

     
  • At 12:48 PM, Blogger Amy York said…

    I am sorry for your loss...
    What a beautiful tribute to Jim.
    I hope his family finds a way through this together...

     
  • At 12:51 PM, Blogger painted maypole said…

    I love the last line of this.

     
  • At 1:25 PM, Blogger bubandpie said…

    The rhetoric of fighting and victory and "beating cancer" has always made me a bit uncomfortable. I love the way you've reinterpreted here. What a lovely tribute.

     
  • At 1:30 PM, Blogger Mom101 said…

    Oh man. I'm so sorry. He'd be honored by your tribute.

     
  • At 2:09 PM, Anonymous Erika Jurney, Plain Jane Mom said…

    I am so sorry.

     
  • At 2:38 PM, Blogger WI Mommy said…

    wow. I'm so sorry for you and for Jim's family. Thank you for sharing him with us.

     
  • At 2:47 PM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    Screw you Cancer, indeed. I'm so sorry for the loss Jim's wife and children have had to experience. That was a beautiful tribute.

     
  • At 3:24 PM, Anonymous Andrea said…

    I am so sorry, for everyone who has to suffer his loss.

     
  • At 3:46 PM, Anonymous mel from freak parade said…

    I'm so sorry for your loss. And his family's loss. What a beautiful tribute.

     
  • At 4:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What does the race of the nurse have to do with the story?

    I'm pretty sure you wouldnt have said 'a formidable white nurse'.

    -------

    Death is always a reminder to live our lives the way we ought to but 'don't have time' for. At the end of the day...it's all about those you love.

     
  • At 5:08 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Anonymous, Thank you for your comment. Normally, I am open to discussion on just about anything I have said, but as you can probably understand, I am not interested in debating a post about a dead friend and I won't quibble the semantics of it either. The nurse was black, I said so. I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't try to spin it into something it's not. Any further comments of this nature will be deleted out of respect to my friend and his family. Thank you.

     
  • At 5:13 PM, Anonymous Sandra said…

    Thank you for sharing your dear friend with us. I am so sorry for your loss. His family are in my thoughts.

     
  • At 6:08 PM, Anonymous AA said…

    Through tears I will just say...

    Not bad, for an agnostic.

     
  • At 6:21 PM, Blogger cndymkr said…

    My friend Mike died last year from colon cancer. Like your friend Jim, he left behind a wife and two young children. Cancer is sometimes harder on those who survive. Mike's motto for three years was "I'm going to kick this cancers ass". In the coming months Kate and her children are going to be forced to adjust to a new life. I will pray for them and other families that have been destroyed by cancer.

     
  • At 7:47 PM, Blogger Sharon said…

    BA-

    My condolences to you. I'm all too familiar with the journey your friend is facing. I also lost my husband and best friend to cancer at the young age of 39. Because we have/had warped senses of humor, we named Husband's tumor "Tommy the Tumor." We even considered making buttons reading "Tommy must die!" Cancer definitely sucks, but laughing in its face helps.

    If and when your friend is ready, there's a wonderful online community for young widows at http://www.ywbb.org

     
  • At 7:51 PM, Blogger liv said…

    Dang it. I've got tears. Blessings to you, his friend, and to the family.

     
  • At 8:28 PM, Blogger Veronica Mitchell said…

    A beautiful tribute.

    My condolences to you.

     
  • At 8:37 PM, Blogger Christine said…

    I am so sorry. You and all who mourn him will be in my thoughts.

     
  • At 9:15 PM, Blogger slouching mom said…

    Oh, shit, BA, I am terribly sorry.

    I wish Kate strength and courage to face what lies ahead.

     
  • At 10:08 PM, Blogger margalit said…

    I'm so sorry for your loss. That was a lovely tribute.

     
  • At 9:19 AM, Blogger Kevin Charnas said…

    With a heavy, heavy heart, I'm sorry...

    And how beautiful, achingly beautiful this post is...

     
  • At 9:37 AM, Blogger kevin said…

    I admire your friend's decision to opt out on treatment at some point. For some there comes a time when chemotherapy only hastens the death as opposed to postpone it. I have often asked myself if cancer were to return what stage of life I would have to be at before saying no to chemotherapy. I've yet to come up with an answer and hopefully won't have to.

    A chemotherapy ward is like a medical purgatory with little going on but waiting, dripping, waiting, dripping, waiting, dripping and more waiting. To break the monotany I would chat with some of the others in there. I heard amazing stories from people who chose to keep smiles on their faces long after I would have thrown myself in front of a truck or dove of a bridge. More than once someone would make mention of having to meet with an attorney to plan for the care of surviving minor children. Like you said . . . beyond my comprehension.

    If anything positive came out of cancer for me it was learning to deal with the inevitability of my own death. It sounds to me like your friend also reached some degree of resolution with his mortality by taking hold of the reins himself.

    In spite of the debilitating effects cancer and its subsequent treatment have on a peron, I still maintain that it is harder on the family than it is on the individual. It is good that his family has you as a friend. Because you've written such fond memories of him here, part of him will always live on.

     
  • At 9:49 AM, Blogger urban-urchin said…

    what a beautiful tribute to your friend. My deepest condolences.

     
  • At 1:55 PM, Blogger Mrs. Chicky said…

    I am so very sorry. Celebrate his life but mourn his death as well. Tears deserve to be shed and through their reflection you find the beauty of the person you lost.

    Although, from this tribute, it seems you already have found his beauty. He sounds like he was a wonderful man.

     
  • At 10:12 PM, Blogger Blogversary said…

    I am sorry to hear about Jim. You are in my thoughts.

     
  • At 9:08 AM, Blogger Mad Hatter said…

    I recently lost a good friend to cancer as well. My condolences.

     
  • At 5:55 AM, Anonymous John said…

    I am really sorry to hear about Jim. You are still in my thoughts.

     
  • At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Jim lived one helluva DASH, read the poem by Linda Ellis.
    Be Proud to have known him

     

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