|Markus Aquarius and Rudy|
He also had cancer. He didn't know he had cancer, well, until he did. Cancer took his bladder and left him in the unenviable position to have a bag attached to his leg.
He battled cancer and beat it down. He went into remission.
But cancer is a dick, an ugly friend if you will who is always with you. It waited until his guard went down and came roaring back, attacking other organs and when he found out, it was already stage 4. Doctors gave him a short span to enjoy his time here and he set out to wrangle the disease again. He never lost hope, never accepted defeat, his attitude was always positive.
Or so I heard... I'm the other guy... the bad friend.
I've stewed on writing this because it was going to be hard. I may have to keep trying to write it and if you're reading it, I must have finished it.
Mark was my friend. He taught me more about reef tanks, life, parenting, and God than I ever had a chance to thank him for. The first time I got the news that Mark had cancer, I visited him once or twice. I told myself that I was staying out of the way of the healing process. He had plenty of visitors and I had life's challenges and raising kids to worry about.
I should have thrown the Excuse flag right then. I didn't want to deal with Cancer. I know it isn't contagious, but I couldn't deal with it. When I realized I wasn't dealing with it, I made the excuse that it was too long and too late and I couldn't go back and do it over. How could I walk back in as if nothing had ever happened?
And then he beat it down. I was excited for him. We chatted on Sundays. We didn't talk about cancer or survival or bladder bags. We didn't talk about my fear and cowardice and not visiting.
I had been downstairs with the kids on a particular Sunday a year or so later and didn't catch announcements and prayer requests, but got a call on my way home from work from Mark. He knew he hadn't seen me and wanted to tell me personally that the cancer was back. He told me the doctors had told him he was going to die, as matter of fact as that... because that was his nature. He said he was going to keep his head up because all the survivor stories he had heard involved people not losing hope.
It was at that point that I said I was sorry. I was sorry that I didn't know what else to say other than "I'm sorry." I was sorry that I hadn't been there on the first go around. I was sorry that I just couldn't deal with it and had difficulty not saying what was on my mind and being direct. I was sorry that I wasn't as hopeful as he was. I told him wanted to be there for him but that I didn't want to diminish his hope.
Like a good friend, he allayed my fears. He said that his hope was much stronger in its root than my fear. He told me as matter of fact that he had conversed with his wife and that they would enjoy whatever time the Lord allowed him on this earth and then he'd see her in Heaven. He said it in much the same way as you'd tell someone that you would meet them at a restaurant.
His first few weeks were a little rough and I visited him in the Hospital with my eldest son. Mark seemed impatient to begin treatment that he knew would eradicate the spreading ugliness of cancer. The doctors wanted all the right conditions for maximum effectiveness. A week or so later, I visited him at home with my middle son. With the winter pressing upon us, colds in the family kept me from visiting for fear of exposing him to something that he wouldn't be able to fight.
Spring led to my migraines that wouldn't go away, allergies crushing my spare time. My remaining spare time was spent on catching up on the chores that I needed to do. I always kept an eye on emails about his progress and things never looked down. I realized that people with great hope don't often have "bad" progress reports.
And then my wife called me at work one day and asked the words I already knew the answer to... "did you hear about Mark?"
I had done it again. This time, I couldn't apologize.
It has been more than two months since I got that call.
I am not certain I will ever meet someone as genuine as Mark. I have to imagine that if he were here with me, he'd be assuring me that I was a good friend during some of his best days, he wouldn't mention the bad days. He would forgive me and tell me that he can't wait to see me again. That's what Good friends do, or so I've been told.
But he's not here...
I have to believe he is enjoying the best fishing of his life. I can't wait to see him again.
I'm linking to Dude Write this week. You should visit and read some great posts by Dudes!