Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light

This is a rough entry. This is not funny. There is rough language. If you can't handle it then get out now.

My friend Clint had his death sentence pronounced a week or so ago. Terminal disease they said and it looks as if he will not be leaving the hospital - his third stay in the last three months. The last 2 trips they thought it was pneumonia. The first time they pumped him full of antibiotics and steroids and as soon as his oxygen levels returned to normal they released him. Over the next couple of weeks the oxygen levels began to fall again and they readmitted him, claimed the first round didn't take, and proceeded to repeat the antibiotic/steroid regimen and released him. This time around he made it 2 weeks out of the hospital before he had trouble breathing and this time they admitted him to the ICU. It was only after the thoracic surgeon that saved his life 10 years ago stumbled upon him (he was there seeing other patients) and raised holy hell that no one contacted him DESPITE THE FACT THAT LUNG CANCER WAS ALL OVER HIS MEDICAL RECORDS that they got the diagnosis correct. I'd probably get all of the medical jargon incorrect so I'll just tell you the gist which is that his remaining lung is turning 'glassy' and that his ability to process oxygen and carbon dioxide is shutting down. The 'fix' of the antibiotics and steroids is paying diminishing returns and as soon as they stop working again he will suffocate to death.

There is no cure.

I am so full of rage and sorrow right now I don't know what to do with myself.

Clint is 53 years old. He is a man that one can be proud to call a friend. He is so full of life. He is loud and his cajun accent and outrageous stories dominate a room. He is honest and direct and opinionated and funny. He loves his wife with all of his heart and isn't afraid to let people know. He doesn't put up with bullshit and is the first one to grab the lunch check. You know where you stand with him and in this world of image and pretentious bullshit that is an amazing thing. He is the guy that I wrote about in an earlier entry when we went shooting at his hunting camp.

Fuck this. It isn't fair. I know I'm not the first one to feel this sense of loss and helplessness and heart burning, gut wrenching rage. There are people in this world that I wouldn't piss on to save if they were on fire - I can be that cold, it is an ugly truth that I know about myself in my heart of hearts - and I can't help but want to bargain with the imaginary man in the sky that I'd rend 10, 20 or 100 of them by hand, in whatever bloody sacrifice that he needs to satisfy his bloodlust, just to keep my friend here with me. But there is no imaginary man in the sky to bargain with. Nothing at all. Just an overwhelmingly random universe that we have imbued with a mystical consciousness in an effort to maintain our collective sanity as we try to make sense of it all.

Today was a good day. We loaded him into a wheelchair, bundled him up in blankets and took him outside where his wife had his dogs waiting to see him. I brought his favorite cigars and we smoked together, he, Mike and I, as we had so many times before. Don't be shocked about the cigar, his doctor said that cigar smoking had nothing to do with this disease and if the man wanted to smoke one then by god he should. There, surrounded by 20 or so of his friends, he held court and made people laugh and just for a moment we could believe that it was going to be all right.

But, it isn't going to be all right.

So, I will do my duty and I will go into his hospital room over the next few weeks and I will do my best to be a good friend to him and let him die with his dignity intact. I will joke with him and listen to him tell the story of his life and I will not cry until I am alone and out of his sight. That is the only way that I know how to honor his friendship.

I only hope that I am strong enough a man to do what needs to be done.

I am going to go and cry for my friend now.

No, that is a lie. I am going to go and cry for me now.

Soon there will be one less good soul in the world and I am not a happy man.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas, 1951 or 1952


  1. These things are unavoidable, unfair and a total crock of shit. You're doing what you can do, being there for your friend. Very sorry. :(

  2. Oh, Rhino, I'm so sorry. What dreadful news.

    Your friend sounds marvellous, and while I agree there's nothing fair about any of this, you have been so blessed to have such a great friendship with a great man. And I hope that will give you some comfort; even though I'm terrible at expressing these things.

    My thoughts are with you and your friend. I hope you can smoke many more cigars together.

  3. I got nothing. It sucks donkey turds, esp the pure randomness of it all.
    When it gets down to the root of all life, love, family an friends are all their really is. Your friend is blessed by having all of those in abundance. Spend as much time as you can with him. Let him know he is appreciated/loved.

  4. Sorry to hear this Rog. Good vibes for Clint, his family and his friends.

    On a side note...Rog you know I cuss like a sailor. don't worry about rough language on my account my friend.

  5. Life can be a right C**T sometimes. I don't believe in any higher power, karma or fate.

    All I can tell you is that it is better to have lived some life than none at all.

  6. Roger, all you can do is support him until the last.

    My respects

  7. My dad was a lot like what your friend sounds like. Hang in there, the huge difference your friend makes to the lives around him will always be there.

    Don't worry about the crying, it is just another way to say you love someone. I still cry about dad, but I wouldn't have traded him for the universe.

  8. Mate, I can only echo Barnes and everyone else. Not fucking fair in the slightest, and all either you or he can do is face it with dignity. It's a total, total bastard of a thing. Very sorry.

  9. You have my deepest sympathies my brother.

    I am wading through grief & loss myself with both my father & Father In Law on their way out.
    You can see the appeal of Faith at times like this.


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