You know, it seems that every year, as we age, as people suddenly pass away, we know more of them.
A dear friend of the family lost his sister last week while he and his wife were on vacation in New Mexico. They are the only two left in the family so now, he's alone.
When I was a kid, every death was something that had nothing to do with me. I was young and had my whole life ahead of me. Sure, I felt bad for the person whose time here ended but life went on and it wasn't long before they were just memories in my young mind.
Now that I am older and have cancer, death has taken on a persona. Nah, I don't dwell on my passing. I figure it's going to happen sooner or later--preferably later--and there ain't nothing I can do about it except maybe go out cussing and screaming. It's just that before this damn cancer came along, death was always in the distant future.
When I was 37, we lost a friend to cancer. Two days before he passed, I held his hand in the hospital and we locked eyes for a minute. No words were exchanged and he was too weak to pull away from me for some macho reason. I knew then he wasn't long for this world and I silently bid him farewell.
Bob died a Warrior's death by literally fighting death. Everytime he would lapse into the final sleep, Bob would jerk himself awake and he would live longer. He had two boys to live for and damn if he was going to leave them. His sister had to tell him she had custody of his boys and it was okay for him to go before Bob finally gave up the ghost.
The day he died was the day I stopped smoking after just more than 20 years. He was my inspiration everytime the cravings got so intense my chest would cramp up and I was forced to stop and squeeze my arms across my chest. As the painful craving ran its course, all I could think of was how Bob looked on his death bed.
Maybe its the cancer and my age but Bob comes to mind quite a bit now, as do the others I've known who are no longer with us. They're no longer just a memory. I think it's probably knowing that this cancer can take off any time it gets the chance and it is just a matter of time before I lose my battle to the Beast.
Each night, as I prepare to drop off to sleep, I say a little prayer just in case. You never know, now do you?
My friend's sister died in her sleep. It was a good way for her to go, I think. As for me, I think I would like to go the way Bob did. Fight the angel of death tooth and nail and make the sumbitch work to take me. He's gonna have to want to take me real bad.