A friend of mine is dying from a disease that is taking him out in a very visible way.  I don’t care that it’s painful for me to watch — it’s much more painful for him to suffer.  He’s not taking it well.  He’s in continual pain and uses some of those obnoxious analgesics that turn you into a vegetable so you’re not moaning and crying and wincing in pain constantly.

He’s not taking it well in the other way, either.  Bitterness over his life being cut short, being in such suffering and having been ripped off quite recently by a number of ‘friends’ has boiled over in his psyche and he dissolves into ugly rants.  I listen patiently and try to interject as little as I can while he rails against God and bastards who steal from him and Christians who are all hypocrites and cries and cries about the wrongness of it all.  Strangely, jokes seem to help.  He’s stuck.  He knows he’s going to suffer and die anyway.  But laughter is the best medicine, and despite my fears about offending or alienating he repeatedly seeks me out because I lend an ear that can be trusted not to take offense or be alienated.

He’s alone.  Wife #2 left him some time back for a guy in the office, his brother died of an overdose  a few years ago, his mother passed in Ohio recently and his only son is estranged.  And he’s left with this cancer and a hundred and ten year old dog, a Chihuahua, who’s also departing soon.  The coward in me wants to have nothing to do with this.  I’m not some nobleman who valiantly remains in the fight for the larger principle of it or the promise of the merciful being shown mercy.  I can’t escape duty.  That’s the way I was raised.  And so I’m going to love and serve quietly to the end.