You Know Dave
My best friend is dying. There’s nothing I can do to change that. You know Dave; he’s your father, your brother, or the man who walks his dog past your house at 8am. As they say in Dave’s state, Ohio “he’s good people.” One day Dave will be you.
My Dave is a lot older than me. Forget that eighty-seven years young crap. Eighty-seven is old. Medicine can extend a life so that one can exist, but it is a long way from making ones octogenarian years a culmination of a life of joy. The smart ones find joy from a diminishing life menu, a cup of coffee, birdsong and if they are really lucky holding the hand of a wife or partner who loves them.
My Dave is not that smart or lucky. He spent too many years “going to” rather than doing. Too many years single rather than nakedly standing in front of another soul and saying know me and allow me to know you. When we first met one of the joys of David was that he had done so many more things than me, been so many more places and had experienced things I’d only read about. He’d met people that death prevents me from meeting in this lifetime.
We met at college believe it or not. I a complete newbie to America, not knowing anyone and coming from a village that still had cobblestones and a stocks in its center. He would take me for groceries once a week in his car and then we’d have dinner. His stories dazzled me but as the years went on and I had graduated, had children and sadly gotten divorced it became ever more apparent that his “life” was in the past. There was no present; there was no future and each day the sun rose and set twenty years earlier for him. His self-imposed isolation accrues interest with each year.
Ironically this blind spot in him did not obscure his vision of others. He was the one that taught me that the present doesn’t have to repeat the past. It is written by the choices that one makes right now. For that and many other things, I’ll always be grateful to him.
Our thirty-year friendship will not reach thirty-one years. It might, but I doubt it. System by system his body is shutting down and pain erodes his spirit. On a daily basis, I try to give him dignity when time and ever-stronger medicines are taking it way from him. Today I’ll do the life needs of cutting his nails, pulling his pants up and down and making him a tasty meal, I’ll clean his apartment and sort out his paperwork. Those are existing things. If we’re lucky and he’s up to it, we’ll go for a drive on the Pacific Coast Highway, we’ll have a glass of wine somewhere he’s never been before which his doctors would probably frown upon, but which he’ll enjoy, and I’ll introduce him to the wonders of ITunes. Those are living things.
After I’ve finished looking after him, it’s home to my rascals ages 2, 6 and 13. Never is the circle of life more apparent than when you are loving and caring for such extreme ends of the lifespan.
Today is your day. The clock is ticking, and there are no refunds. Be it your professional or personal life make the most of what you’ve got and give your Dave, a call. I know he’d appreciate it.
By Michael Jeremy Savage
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