Invisible Gaping Wounds

I recently lost a very close friend of mine. He had turned 40 one week before he died, and his death was a complete and total shock to everyone who knew him.  My world spun off its axis the day he died.

Given the suddenness of his passing, you would think he met with a fatal accident of some type, but you’d be wrong. My friend died of complications from a disease he had been carrying around with him for a very long time, yet hadn’t told a living soul about.

There are two parts to this that I can’t get my head around.  The first is that the disease he had is very manageable, so for him to develop complications so young means he wasn’t taking any type of medication or being at all proactive about keeping himself healthy. He wasn’t even trying.

According to his father, my friend never knew, but I don’t believe that. I think he was just in denial. Maybe he hoped if he ignored it or didn’t acknowledge it in any way, it would go away.

The other part of this, which is more upsetting to me than the first part, is that he didn’t feel close enough with ANYONE to share what he was going through. I have very few true friends in this world, but for those I do have, I will go to the ends of the earth. I would have listened when he needed to vent, I would have held his hand when he just wanted company, I would have driven him to treatment and cleaned up his puke afterward if needed.  I would have done anything in my power to make sure he was getting the treatment he needed and wasn’t alone through it all. Yet, he didn’t trust me enough to share with me that he was sick.

He moved back home, to the middle of Farmtown USA, in May. It was a very sudden move, and I remember thinking at the time that it was a little strange, a little out of character. Sure, his family was there, but his family wasn’t 100% supportive of his choices in life and his personality was too large for small town living.

His attitude towards people in San Diego seemed to change right before his move as well. He started complaining about how shallow people are and saying he missed good Midwestern values. He started supporting more conservative political candidates, another contradiction with how he lived his life.

Did he know? Before he moved, did he know he was sick, and is that why he left so suddenly? Did he leave because he didn’t want any of us to see his health and appearance decline or did he leave to be with his family during his last days?

WHY?? Why didn’t he seek treatment here, where some of the best doctors for his particular disease are located? Why did he shut us all out at the end? Why didn’t he feel he could confide and trust in anyone? Why didn’t he ask anyone for help? Why didn’t he know I loved him for exactly who he was, not for his image or reputation?

There is a huge hole in my life where he once stood. He is still my friend on Facebook, and I occasionally leave him messages to tell him I miss him. He is still in my phone and my email contact list. How do you purge those things?

I will always love him. I will always miss him. I will never understand.

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5 Responses to Invisible Gaping Wounds

  1. Laura A. says:

    I’m so incredibly sorry for your loss Kelly. I can’t imagine what you’re feeling. I don’t let many people in because of depression issues. It’s a part of me no one but my family sees if at all. I kind of understand why he wouldn’t want people to see him deteriorate and to maybe spare them pain but in reality it caused more pain. I doubt that he was thinking clearly knowing he was dying. Again I’m really sorry you have to go through this.

  2. crisisinca says:

    Thank you Laura. One day at a time.

  3. Kristina F. says:

    Kelly, I am so sorry. It can be hard to understand the decisions people make when they are dying. I believe they make those decisions that seem so difficult to understand because in their own way, it is what makes dying easier for them. Don’t think he thought he couldn’t confide in or trust you. Don’t think he didn’t realize that you loved him for him. I think that for some people, it is easier to die relatively more alone. When you are very sick, sometimes even all the caring can be overwhelming. The sad looks, the expressions of sympathy, the offers to help – sometimes even those are too much, and so it’s easier for the sick person to just avoid all that altogether. Sometimes it’s that they don’t want to be a burden. Sometimes it’s because they want the people to love them to have only happy memories of them when they were healthy, and not sad ones of seeing them dying. Try to believe that he made the decisions that he did because it is really and truly what made dying the easiest and most peaceful for him. Also, unfortunately as people break down from physical diseases, their brain starts to break down too. In the late stages of his illness, he may have just not be thinking the way the man you knew would have thought. As for how you purge the Facebook contacts, the phone number in the cell, etc – I think you don’t. Someday a day will come that you realize you are ready to do so. Until then, just let them be.

    I have a dear friend with Stage 4 breast cancer. As hard as it is to say, she is dying. The cancer is literally everywhere, and though she remains in treatment, at best it is probably prolonging her life a bit, but not saving it. She does not want visitors. I haven’t seen her in a long time (she lives several hours away). Very few people know just how sick she is, and she asks those of us who do not to share it with others. So there are some parallels with your friend. In her case, I really think it just makes it easier and less stressful for her. So I keep my distance, and respect that, and stay in touch via e-mail and just let her know I am thinking of her and share the little tidbits that I know brighten her day. It is entirely possible that I will not see her again before she dies. I doubt she will let me know when she gets very, very close to the end. But I know it’s on her terms and it’s what she wants, so I’m OK with it.

    So anyway, I think the best answer to the unanswerable questions is to just believe that he did what, in its own strange way, made death the easiest for him – even if it made it harder on many of the people who loved him.

    Hang in there Kelly. Time will help.

    • crisisinca says:

      Thank you Kristina. I’m sorry about your friend. Make sure you tell her you love her while you still can.

      I think one of the things about my friend is that not everyone knows how he died, and even of those who do know he died of X, most don’t know it was a complication of Y. And since no one was able to speak with him before he died, we don’t know if he kept everything a secret intentionally or if he really didn’t know. So we don’t know what to say to people. It’s not our secret to tell, so we have to honor that he didn’t tell anyone himself, but it makes it unbearable when people start asking questions.

  4. divawannabe says:

    Kelly I am so sorry for your loss. He clearly was loved.

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