Print Story I Fear the ....
By Gedvondur (Tue Sep 19, 2017 at 12:02:36 AM EST) (all tags)
For the second time in a month I walked into my kitchen, poured a finger of the Macallan, and said my goodbyes to an empty room.

Fuck cancer.

Three years ago, an older recently former co-worker named D told us he had cancer. It wasn’t good, but he thought he had a chance. He pressed forward. I saw him a few times at trade shows, talked with him in the phone. The cancer was retreating. The treatments were bad, but it was worth it because it was working. Soon the chemo stopped and the radiation treatments. He gained weight, he was feeling good.

I saw him a few times, got dinner with him. He was living in Las Vegas with his wife, looking forward to retirement in the next few years. On the last checkup, the one where they declare you “cancer free” they found more. And more. And more. In the course of one afternoon a well deserved future retirement turned into a tomb-stone. D’s cancer was back, but this time it was everywhere. Liver, lungs, lymph nodes and brain. Terminal, with no chance that he was to be able to beat it back again.

I spoke with him a few times. He wasn’t bitter, well not much. He resented the chemo and chemo he had gone through for essentially nothing. He took the generous long term disability his employer offered and went to see the country with his wife. I spoke to him on the phone a few times, heard about him from mutual work-friends. We were going to meet when I got to Las Vegas, get some lunch and talk.

D passed away a week after I got to Las Vegas. I never got to have lunch with him or see him again. I had been told he was declining, but nothing that he was nearing the end. It was quick.

D, I’ll miss you. Your wit and ability to see things for what they are are something I will always treasure. I hope that I can face my future with the same grace you did.

The second tale is about V. V, a man my age and actually of similar career path. We were both analysts, journalists, both technologists. We were both hired, not at the same time, to bring the department where we both worked balance between those with communications degrees and technologists. It wasn’t a 1:1 relationship, a little technologist goes a long way and after all, the department is primarily communications in its function.

V and I served to provide a little filtration for the corporate Kool-aid. Him laconically, with carefully chosen words, administered when all other voices had stopped to intake frantic breath. Me, with emotion and the passion of the self-righteous technologist. His way was less flashy, less risky. But his way was better. More effective, less risky and less…..ego.

I took over some coverages from him and for a year, we talked weekly, as our new assignments made it so that we would work together more closely on this thing they call cloud. He, from a background of service providers, me with the enterprise background. We were good collaborators and our conversations ranged far.

In many ways, we couldn’t be more disparate. His words carefully chosen. Mine wild and at the edge of my mind. Him short, athletic, a marathon runner who did it for the sheer physical joy of it. Me, tall, clumsy and fat, the antithesis of the runner than V was. I counseled him to greater risk and him greater caution to me.

Then he was out of work for a week. When he came back, he told me he had had a seizure. They found a mass on his brain. He began taking anticonvulsants. I knew many of them, the 3rd and 4th generation anticonvulsants that my little French Bulldog was on. For a man who had relied on his body to be a finely tuned machine into his late forties, V didn’t know what to make of the illness or more, he didn’t like what the drugs did to him. He was dizzy, lethargic, unable to run or exercise, activities that had been the centerpiece of his life prior.

We talked from time to time. They removed the mass from his brain and started on chemo and radiation. He even came back to work for a few months. Then his condition worsened. The times that he’d ping me on IM for a chat, voice or otherwise dwindled to nothing. I heard through others that he was coming back to work, four months ago. But the time came and passed. Last week, in San Jose, his supervisor encouraged me to send him a text, something lighthearted, something to keep his spirits up. I resolved to do so.

I was even thinking about what meme or other silliness to send him when that same supervisor sent me an IM. V passed. Yesterday. He had been in hospice for the last week, and at the request of V’s wife, the supervisor didn’t tell me. I’m not upset about that. She trusted him with a sacred duty and he upheld it, as it should be.

A wife, daughter, and son are left with a hole torn into their lives that I can only dimly comprehend. V, my friend, I’ll keep your counsel in my heart, your gentle way I’ll make my own as much as I’m able.

As for me, I feel like I’m drowning. I’ve left my beloved Wisconsin for my wife, who is the best of reasons, but I miss her greenness. Home-sick.

My mid-life crisis, triggered by my own brush with death a few scant years ago, rages nearly without control. Time is like sand in my fist, the harder I try and hold onto the days and years, the faster it comes out between my fingers. I perceive with clarity the fragility and shortness of life and my reaction isn’t to live it to its fullest, like a sane person. Its *anger*.

I’m angry that our lives are so short, so much time spent at fruitless pursuit such as “work” and all the meaningless that my work entails. My work doesn’t benefit the sick, science, or the arts. It benefits a soulless corporation. Despite the fact that I work for one of the better soulless behemoths is scant comfort.

I yearn for equilibrium. I yearn for the time when I knew in my head that I was going to die somewhere, but my innocent heart didn’t. Now it knows and pumps madness into my head. So I write. I bare myself to you all, my imaginary internet friends. Know that I love you, despite the raging temple of anger and emotion that comprises my cranium and know that just being out there, silent or not, you give me strength.
< Nothing is funny. | All the bad things happen miles away >
I Fear the .... | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)
Wow. by ana (4.00 / 2) #1 Tue Sep 19, 2017 at 06:37:55 AM EST
So sorry to hear about your friends & co-workers.

Grief is a strange thing. There's no wrong way to do it. Rage, rage, against the dying of the light, if that's what you're feeling. Whatever you're feeling is real, it's your way. Grief has its own times and seasons and will not be rushed. It's as individual as the relationships it continues.

We're here, listening.

Or get rabies. Also don't do that. --scrymarch

Thanks ana by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #3 Tue Sep 19, 2017 at 11:57:05 AM EST
I really do appreciate it.

[ Parent ]
It's a shock. by ObviousTroll (4.00 / 2) #2 Tue Sep 19, 2017 at 09:45:27 AM EST
I hadn't planned to share any of this - but in the past couple months my direct boss was struck down by viral encephalitis and still hasn't returned to work, my coworker with MS has declined horribly (he's at least 10 years younger than me but now using one of those walkers that can instantly turn into a chair) and, worst, last Thursday a coworker called in sick, Friday his wife called HR to request short-term disability, then Monday, while my interim boss was explaining that the coworker was going to be out for a while we got word he had passed away. 

Suddenly I'm thinking about how much money I'm putting into retirement and disability and wondering how much I can increase it...

An Angry and Flatulent Pig, Trying to Tie Balloon Animals
Heh, well maybe. by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #4 Tue Sep 19, 2017 at 11:57:50 AM EST
But you can't spend it if you are dead or disabled.

[ Parent ]
I'm actually thinking about my family. by ObviousTroll (4.00 / 2) #5 Tue Sep 19, 2017 at 03:12:12 PM EST
 My dad died when he was just 5 years older than I am now, need to leave something behind for SWHTL and the kids.

An Angry and Flatulent Pig, Trying to Tie Balloon Animals
[ Parent ]
Sorry: sorry for your loss. by ambrosen (4.00 / 1) #6 Wed Sep 20, 2017 at 01:18:20 PM EST
It sounds hard. But at a guess, you're patching around the edges of these people's holes.

And it looks a lot like you carry on doing the important stuff at work: making the people you work with feel human.

Thanks by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #7 Wed Sep 20, 2017 at 03:06:35 PM EST
I'm certainly trying.

[ Parent ]
The group I run with by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #8 Thu Sep 21, 2017 at 07:16:33 AM EST
It’s been drugs. Lost 5 this month.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Good gravy by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #9 Thu Sep 21, 2017 at 11:02:29 AM EST
I'm so sorry.  That's terrible.

[ Parent ]
Wow. by ObviousTroll (2.00 / 0) #10 Thu Sep 21, 2017 at 11:58:54 AM EST
Oh man, by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #11 Thu Sep 21, 2017 at 03:08:34 PM EST
that's terrible. So sorry.

[ Parent ]
I Fear the .... | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)