I went to visit a good friend in the hospital yesterday. He was diagnosed with cancer last September—and seemed to respond well to chemo and radiation treatment—he was told the cancer was gone. Then, about two months ago—he was told that the cancer returned, and this time it had spread to his lung. My friend, a large and healthy man—about 6’4” and 240 pounds at the time he was diagnosed last September—is now 6’4” and 130 pounds.
Jerry, my friend, is someone that I saw and talked to almost every-day for the last four years—someone who has always been there for me, like family. As you may have read in my previous posts—my immediate family lives in the NE, thousands of miles away. So, Jerry, being a bit older than me—is like a best friend/Uncle…someone I could always call to talk to and depend on. He is a very intelligent man—and always gives the best and most honest advice…not the sugar coating type.
Jerry is the giving kind of man—he doesn’t like to receive. He always wants to lend a helping hand—but refuses to have a hand help him. The kind of guy who wouldn’t tell you when something was bothering him—as he always wanted to know how he could remedy what is bothering you. He comes to a party of ten people—and brings enough food for one hundred. He is a wonderful cook—and everyone knows it. He doesn’t like to hear your compliments about his food—the compliments for him come in the form of empty plates, full tummies and the “yummm’s” as people take a bite of his culinary delights.
He doesn’t like children much—but he always treats Lila as if she is his niece. He brings her gifts, gives her hugs and has a big smile on his face whenever he sees her. She has warmed up to him over the years—I think she can sense how big of a heart Jerry has. On birthdays and holidays he brings her and I gifts—he doesn’t have to…he just does and he does it out of love. Last year he bought me a bottle of Wild Turkey—as that was my favorite liquor to drink during my active alcoholic days…he knows this year that Wild Turkey won’t be necessary. He is proud that I stopped drinking—and have become healthier. Jerry supported me through a really tough time this year—and all the while he kept secret just how sick he had become. I wish I knew earlier—but then again, does someone want to admit or discuss that they are dying? Probably not.
Jerry is an inspiration to me—truly selfless. He is a person that finds happiness, not in self-indulgence, but within the smiles of his friends. The hugs from those he loves. Jerry volunteers every-day at a local Food Bank—which is how he and I met. He has the simplest yet most noble objective when volunteering: feed people and families who need food. He has fed the hungry for over sixteen years because it is the right thing to do—not because of recognition.
I sat with Jerry yesterday and held his hand as he lay in the hospital bed. I wasn’t sure what to say—and often times we say things to our loved ones in a time of crisis—things we should’ve been saying since the day we met. I held his hand and said “I love you. I’ll be back tomorrow.” Jerry couldn’t respond—but he was aware that loved ones surrounded him—he gripped my hand a little bit harder. I can say “I’ll see you tomorrow” but I know now more than ever that tomorrow isn’t promised. We have to express our love to those closest to us today…here and now.
I pray for a miracle—that Jerry will beat his cancer. Cancer is a mother fucking son of a bitch. I can’t make up for all of the missed opportunities in expressing just how much I care for Jerry—how much he means to me. But today, I can sit with him, hold his hand and say “I love you brother.” I am grateful that I get to see Jerry today because his, mine and your tomorrow isn’t promised—cancer or not. I now, more so than ever, realize that I need to give more hugs, kisses and say “I love you” whenever possible to those that are closest.