The last time I posted a blog about anything other than the works of J.R.R. Tolkien was when a young man I barely knew died unexpectedly. I had had to move into this wild and wooly hippie house due to financial circumstances, and he had occupied the other downstairs bedroom. He went home for Easter and never returned. It was very sad, but very abstract at the same time. Death is just unimaginable. People just disappear.
So today I post another blog I could never have imagined writing. My friend, Mike, whom I’ve known for a very, very long time is fading away as I type this. It was not completely unexpected. One day this July, half his face became paralyzed, and it was discovered that he had a walnut-sized tumor in his brain, along with several others, and spots all on the inside of his body. It was skin cancer, oddly, the man did not get much sun.
I knew, intellectually, that it was a death sentence, but going to see him in the hospital, he was the same old Mike, and his personality was so upbeat, it was easy to think that he would be alright. . It’s Mike, after all, and the big tumor was operable.
Mike was a guileless, friendly person. I’ve never met anyone quite like him. We both worked at Arby’s and he was a smiling, loud laughing face amongst strangers. He also sported a ridiculous mustache, for quite a long time. 🙂
Arby’s was a strange, quantum focal point in my life back then, getting a job there set off a whole chain of events of which there are still reverberations. I haven’t thought about that in a long time, but it’s rather astonishing that just getting a crappy job at a fast food joint could effect my life that much.
So yesterday morning, my phone rings, and I see it’s a call from Rick( Rick is Eddie’s younger brother. I met Eddie at Arby’s. I ended up being roommates with Rick, and subsequently got him a job at Arby’s, where he met Mike. Thanks to their mutual ability to geek out on toys and strategy games for hours at a time, they formed a fast friendship.) I knew it was going to be bad news about Mike, he had been in an out of the hospital lately. The treatment was making him very sick. The doctors said the treatment was working great, that there was nothing else wrong with him, and felt that his frequent trips to the hospital were psychological in nature. This one was different, he’d had a stroke, and it sounded pretty bad.
Rick lives in Wisconsin, and Eddie about an hour and a half away, and Rick and I arrived just moments before Eddie. Just in time for his mother to tell us he wasn’t going to make it. Rick and I had just spent the last few minutes talking ourselves into his eventual recovery, and the news was devastating. It still is.
What followed was an incredibly bleak exercise in reality that nevertheless seemed completely unreal. A neurosurgeon came in and explained they’d found more tumors and there was nothing to be done besides making his death peaceful. Then a priest came in and performed some sort of absolution. I understand that people find comfort in these things, but in a room bursting with emotion, his words sounded hollow and meaningless, words that have been repeated verbatim 1000s of times.
Mike was a great guy. He helped me out on numerous occasions, too many to count. We hadn’t been particularly close for a while, and just before he got sick(found out he was sick, I guess) I helped him move to another town, whereas previously he was only a half a mile away. He was no spring chicken anymore, but too young to die.
I didn’t know I would be so broken up about his death, I guess that’s why I felt compelled to write this blog.