Wednesday, September 01, 2004

I hope you're there

I was talking with Jody’s uncle yesterday and I’m really starting to face the fact that Jody was coming to terms with his mortality in the first few months of the year. Jesse (Jody’s uncle) reminded me that Jody was aware from the outset that his prognosis was only 2% positive. I can remember being chilled when Jody said something like that to me last fall, but at the time, they’d given him at least two years. There was still lots of time, and many different treatments they could try, or so it seemed. I was more concerned with the pain and suffering he would have on the road to recovery than really believing he would die relatively soon. That was the luxury distance afforded me. Jody’s on-site friends and family were afforded little of that. Jody, none at all.

When Jody was first diagnosed with cancer in August of 2002, I had P-Doug come over and help my shave my head. It was in solidarity with Jody. There was a superstitious element to it, too. I guess I thought that if I took on the embarrassment of shaving my head, then... well, it was some sort of an offering to God, you know? I don’t mean to suggest I was doing something entirely noble. Yes, my first concern was for Jody. But it was also for me. I didn’t want him taken out of my life. As God is my witness, I swear, I would have given him ten years of my life if I could have. I bet dozens of his friends and family would have. If only we could have given him just a few years each. But we’re not allowed to make those bargains.

Looking back at my ICQ logs with him, I can see times when he was quietly trying to bring me to terms with what he was facing. I can see how I resisted the knowledge. Party for myself, but partly for him. Deep down, I really believed if I gave up hope, then he really would die. I couldn’t ever have mentally gone there. Not if I’d been standing at his bedside when he died. But the signs were there, nonetheless.

This is from last February, just after a scan. If you go to the “Ailuro” LiveJournal, you can read about how disappointed he was. He largely hid this from me...

LonePrimate 2/25/2004 10:15 AM
So what will they do with the radiation?

RubyOcelot 2/25/2004 10:16 AM
Not sure yet, not actually talked wif radiation doctor, maybe do next week...he outta town, juss took call from my doctor. Sound like probably try to do heavy spot radiation onna big lung tumor.

LonePrimate 2/25/2004 10:17 AM
Flea yeahs! >:)X

RubyOcelot 2/25/2004 10:18 AM
Ruby smiles :) "It biggest tumor (6.5cm sphere) anna most likely to cause pain anna problems first. Though it almost sound like it not really for curative stuff, it juss to make sure I comfortable for as long as possible :("

LonePrimate 2/25/2004 10:21 AM
It'll help kill it, they just need to get a handle on what will arrest the growth. Sounds like they're close if it hasn't grown much...

RubyOcelot 2/25/2004 10:21 AM
Except dat last scans showed dat chemo had arrested growth, so it growing again is ting.

LonePrimate 2/25/2004 10:23 AM
But not much, right?

RubyOcelot 2/25/2004 10:24 AM
Sound like maybe not much, but also not can radiation leg again. Dunno.

I think the most frightened I got was in May. May 7th, a little after ten in the morning. As it turns out, a month almost to the hour before Jody died...

RubyOcelot 5/7/2004 10:52 AM
Ruby pets anna cuddles, sowwies, was telling roommates about chaplin guy dat coming later :)

RubyOcelot 5/7/2004 10:52 AM
Yeah, twice inna week!

LonePrimate 5/7/2004 10:52 AM

LonePrimate 5/7/2004 10:53 AM
Getting religion? :)

So how was work?

RubyOcelot 5/7/2004 10:53 AM
Spell right? From hospice place too. Someone to talk to, it seems.

RubyOcelot 5/7/2004 10:53 AM
No, he not push religion at about wotever you wanna talk about. Seems to be more dere for comfort den anyting.

LonePrimate 5/7/2004 10:53 AM
A chaplin? Seems unusual for you. :)

RubyOcelot 5/7/2004 10:53 AM
Was good, productive :)

LonePrimate 5/7/2004 10:54 AM
Scout licks and nuzzles! :)P

RubyOcelot 5/7/2004 10:54 AM
I kept telling dem I not do religious ting. He not do religious ting though, see, he around I tink more to talk about how I feel about dying.

RubyOcelot 5/7/2004 10:54 AM
Ruby purrrrsls :)

LonePrimate 5/7/2004 10:55 AM
Dying? Why do they want to talk about that? Your pain medication's getting reduced, after all.

RubyOcelot 5/7/2004 10:56 AM
Well, dat not wot he say he for, but is sense I got. I still got very little chance of making it, you know...most people not get hospice care.

LonePrimate 5/7/2004 10:58 AM
I know the prognosis is rough but like I said, must be working... they really only need to keep it from getting bigger... well, that, and shrink it to the size that it doesn't hurt you. So long as it doesn't get bigger, it can't actually harm you.

LonePrimate 5/7/2004 10:59 AM
Don't start giving up hope, because... just don't, alright?

RubyOcelot 5/7/2004 10:59 AM
Ruby not give up hope, she juss telling you wot chaplin guy for :)

LonePrimate 5/7/2004 10:59 AM
Tell him to talk about living. :)

RubyOcelot 5/7/2004 11:00 AM
Actually /dat/ wot he say he here to talk about.

LonePrimate 5/7/2004 11:00 AM
Things are starting to turn around for you, the medication's coming down, you're out working again, you're sitting up talking to me and playing online... don't let anything bring you down.

LonePrimate 5/7/2004 11:00 AM
Good :)

RubyOcelot 5/7/2004 11:01 AM
Ruby try not get down too much :)


As I read this, I’m left wondering if there were things he wanted to tell me... fears he wanted to confess and needed me to acknowledge, but I wouldn’t let him. Was I being cold and selfish in denying him that? I thought I was throwing him a rope, but if he had accepted that he wasn’t going to make it, was that appropriate? Was he asking to talk, really talk, and I blew it?

I don’t know, I honestly don’t know, if I would have handled it any differently, even knowing what I know now.

I met Jody's chaplain at the memorial in Dallas at the end of June. He told us that Jody had come to terms with his impending death... that he had been afraid before, but had asked him what happens when you die. The chaplain told him that he was absolutely certain that someone is there, waiting for us. Someone we love, and someone who loves us. Ready, standing by, right there waiting. He told us that Jody wasn't so frightened anymore after that. He was ready.

I don't know the truth of any of that. I just hope that Jody wasn't afraid when he felt it really happening. Or that he wasn't afraid for long. I really, really hope that he opened his eyes and saw that someone who was supposed to be there, waiting. That friend. So may we all, when it's our turn.

Jody, if I let you down, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to, honest. I wanted to keep you afloat. If I carried that on too long... I sure hope you understand why.

I sure hope it'll be you standing there when I open my eyes someday.

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