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.

41 thoughts on “Loss and blame

  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

      1. The youngest so often holds so much of the family pain. I hope this is not just projection. However I know a lot of youngest children who are super sensitive. That is not to say others dont have sensitivities and often in families we play roles or have personas which hide the deeper self.


      2. Yes I just felt that instinctively. The youngest seems to contain so much and they get abandoned not only by the parents but because older siblings carry the same wound and cannot help. We all suffer in each position in that family in different ways. I am seeing that more clearly lately. I am so sorry for the pain though of going through this. As you know my older sister died in 2014 and I told her to let go to. She wasnt ‘awake’ then. And then I left too as it was time to let her go. xooxo

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you. We live on with the precious gift of life they had stolen which is another kind of sadness but in the end everythin passes and ends. Its just that the tragedy of alcoholism makes the whole wound worse as you see perhaps it could have been different had the one you love made different choices. But in the end life is as it is.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I did not read through all the comments and had assumed it was a close friend. I am sincerely sorry for your loss. My brother was also the “baby” of our family. It makes it harder somehow – like he was supposed to wait in line while we, his older sisters and brothers, took that trip down that last highway before him. But life does not offer any guarantees and often throws us a curve ball.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Thank you for your sentiments, especially at a time like this for you. I had someone make a comment the other day, calling me stupid and ignorant for posting this, seeming to think I was blaming my brother for his own demise.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Unfortunately there will be “trolls” – people with little to no understanding, compassion, or empathy. Consider that perhaps this person has not had to suffer the sorrows that most of us have had, there really is no way of knowing where people are coming from. I thought this post was very well written and sensitive. I did not take that from your post at all. I thought you were keeping it real, as they say. Don’t take it to heart.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. And so perhaps is still dealing with the pain of their own loss and was lashing out. Grief makes us lash out sometimes. Don’t take it personally. Your words helped me and I appreciate your honesty and integrity. How people take things is beyond our control – you know the truth and that is all that really matters.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. A blogger responded to this story today by calling me “stupid and ignorant “, presumably for their perception that I had blamed alcohol and tobacco for my brother’s death. They had lost their own brother to heroin. It’s clouded my emotions all day, and I’m tempted to remove the post or rewrite it. Like you, I sometimes write what’s troubling me, and that comment, along with the bleak memories, makes me realize how sensitive I still am.


  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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