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.