Saturday, February 23, 2008

Nothing Left Unspoken

Last weekend, I got an email from my friend's wife. He has been fighting cancer for over a year, but in the last two months, the tumors spread. She said the latest tests had shown it had spread to a vein in his liver and that the doctors said this was the time to calling his family.

I just sat there. The moment had almost arrived. Knowing that he had cancer for the last year has allowed me to get used to the idea and I am grateful to have known, since probably spent more time with him than I might have otherwise in our busy lives.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I would periodically check the blog of Leroy Sievers, a journalist keeping a record of his life with cancer at NPR's website, to get some insight into how my friend might be feeling. Strangely, over the last year, their ups and downs seemed to be running in parallel. So after I closed the email, I went to NPR's website to see how Leroy was doing.

Leroy had stopped blogging on February 5. His partner Laurie, had been maintaining the blog. He had had a third surgery on his spine and his legs had given out and he was in pain.

I burst into tears. What was abstract became real.

I put together a letter to my friend and his wife, along with a photo of us with our dormmates from college, playing broom ball at an ice rink, and mailed it on Tuesday, after President's Day.

On Friday, I got the latest email from my friend's wife, Subject: My Husband has Passed. He passed on Thursday, February 21, at 6:30 PM.

Today I checked Leroy's blog. He is writing again. I am glad of it. He is undergoing physical therapy and took a few steps.

I don't know if my friend got my note before he died, but it didn't say anything more than I hadn't already told him previously--for instance, that I still remember that he helped me move into my first apartment, which everyone knows is sign of a really good friend. Even if he didn't see my final thoughts, I know his family will appreciate it.

But I've never told Leroy what his blog has meant to me. I am taking the time to do so today.

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