Monday, September 18, 2006

Don't Fear the Reaper

One of my favorite songs, in fact - "Don't Fear the Reaper."

But my thoughts have been with the terrible situation my friend Craig Hamrick finds himself in right now. I don't think he is quite 40 years old and as I write this, he is in a New York City hospice with terrible odds of being able to beat the latest assault to his system. The colon cancer that was discovered four years ago did appear to be something he could beat though it was advanced upon its discover. Craig underwent every conceivable type of treatment and there were high hopes along the way as chemo managed to beat back the cancer, but down the road the cancer would return moving through his body to the point now it is almost everywhere in his system.

Last Monday he was given weeks to live, then his health became even worse by the following day to the point where his family from Kansas were advised to come.

What do you do during a vigil? Mutual friends keep each other company and updated with any developments via phone or email. I can't stop thinking about Craig's situation or the terrible pain his family, closest friends and life partner are enduring right now. Craig told me about two years ago that if he was not able to beat the cancer, he could go out feeling good about how he lived his life and grateful that he had the chance to do everything he set out to do. I understand that satisfaction as I can say the same thing (though I have new goals I'm working towards).

There is so much more to do and it is not likely Craig is going to be able to do pursue those new goals. That is what makes us - his friends - so sad and angry.

I can't help but think of my dear friend Dean Wilson who died almost two years ago. He had a sudden illness, was hospitalized, and two hours after I had a hilarious phone conversation with him, Dean succumbed to a massive heartattack and died. He was only 40 years old. Another friend of mine passed away quite unexpectedly in January 2001 and he was only in his early 50s.

In instances like this you are reminded of all the good things you have and how damned lucky you are to have your health. Craig made peace with the fact the cancer would probably kill him and how I admire him for that. How easy it is to be bitter and have the "why me?!" thing going on. But Craig didn't do any of that. Obviously he would rather not have the cancer however he does and he made the best of what life he had each given day. He felt himself fortunately to have met the man he called his "soul mate" in the talented Joe Salvatore.

Making the best out of death and dying. I'm sure the late Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote on that topic but right now I can't think of a single thing she said.

I feel like an open wound.

My the Lord move swiftly to take or relieve you, my friend. You will never be far from our thoughts.

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