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Loss and blame

A person very close to me met his death, at a young age, some years ago.
Cancer it was, and it spread very rapidly, a “good thing” for those of us who loved him.
Like many of us, he had his faults and sins, and had been an alcoholic and a heavy smoker for some years. I understand the emptiness of people who fall into these addictions, and I have seen the finger pointing of some who blamed him for his own demise.

I cannot and do not, because I loved him and sensed that many times he was looking for help that no one could give. If anything, I wear my own guilt for not seeing it sooner and trying harder.

There was a night, in better times, when a few of us went to a New Year’s Eve party. He had planned, wisely, to stay in a nearby motel. My wife and I had chosen to drive, so I had to abstain from drinking more than one beer. It happened that he and I were alone at the table when he got up to make a second or third trip to the bar. He came back with two bottles of beer, and slid one to me, saying “come on, it’s New Years”. I said I couldn’t because we had a long drive ahead of us. In a few minutes, he had finished the two, then looked at me with a downcast expression, and said “I love you”. That was all.

When we first heard of his diagnosis, I panicked, and wanted to see him right away. He had an appointment with the Oncologist the next day, so I went along with him and his partner. As we were walking down the hospital hall, he turned to her, and then to me, and said “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” All three of us wept then.

He was given only a short time, and was adamant that he would spend it at home, so a hospital bed was brought there and he had periodic visits from a nurse. On the last two nights of his life, I stayed at his home, but had gotten very sick with influenza. At one point, he actually got out of his bed and stood up, saying he had to go pee. I embraced him tightly, and said “it’s alright, just go”. It was as black as coke. With the emotional stress and illness, I had to leave the next morning.

That afternoon, he was gone.

Lee Dunn View All

Lee Dunn has been writing since the age of 18, but found that work got in the way for the ensuing 48 years. In his home town of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, he reveled in his independence at an early age, and spent as much time as he could exploring the city’s Arts scene. He was introduced to poetry and prose by the works of two literary giants, namely J.R.R. Tolkien and J.W. Lennon and thence fell in love with the written word. His work includes poetry, short fiction, and personal essays, and ranges in theme from the surreal to the horrific, nostalgic, and themes on the human condition. He has been published on, The Dark Poets Club, Journal of Undiscovered Poets, Crepe & Penn Literary magazine, and the Shelburne Free Press.

41 thoughts on “Loss and blame Leave a comment

  1. My condolences to you. Your post was very moving, and it was clear how much you cared for your brother, and how painful it was to lose him. Cancer takes away so many loved ones, young, old, and in between.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think your friend was blessed to have you by his side at this very difficult time. My mom died of cancer. Once she was diagnosed we had precious little time before she was gone, but every second was treasured and I cherish the memories still. It is not easy to be a bystander – we all want to help but cannot. I think our presence is the best “help” we can give. May your memories bring naught but joy and may his spirit R.I.P.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. There is no rhyme or reason to a thing like cancer, nothing deserved or earned about its diagnosis. It is easy to be a friend in health; it is much harder to be one in illness. It sounds to me as though you were the best sort of friend to this gentleman, at a time when he most needed one, and in a situation where lesser people falter.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I lost one of my best friends a year ago. Cancer too. She’d been given 3 weeks to live at her diagnosis, more than a year before…2 weeks before her wedding. They had a year together as husband and wife. We went to see her in a Hospice. We knew she didn’t have long then. A few of us spent the afternoon with her. She slept for most of it, but we had some laughs too. When we had to leave I embraced her and told her I loved her. She told me I was brave for coming, but it was her that was brave. She died 2 days later.

    It’s still raw, and reading what you wrote took me back there…but it’s beautiful what you wrote and I thank you. I hope you’re glad for the time you spent with your friend. I’m sure it was a huge comfort for him, that you cared so much. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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