Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I almost posted a schlock of drivel I wrote on some unused handouts on the train home since it's been about two weeks since my last addition and I'm trying to be remotely consistent for now. In the context of some things that are going on with someone close to me right now, however, it didn't seem appropriate at the present. My ceaseless inanity can be put off for a while, I think.

I may end up mentioning or alluding to some pretty private matters here, so I hope I don't offend the person I'm writing about. I don't think it will, though, and I'll try to be delicate.

What is not a delicate matter is this: one of my closest friend's best friend from home is dying, a victim of, as far as anything makes sense, a strike of malice from one of the Universe's many hammers of random abuse, in this case, pervasively aggressive leukemia. I don't want to dwell on the ludicrous lack of fairness in this world and how much things like this rattles my struggle to maintain a sense of justice and ethical morality in the midst of this flimsy fabric woven by our existence. It is perhaps enough to say simply that this sucks.

I don't really know my friend's friend (C--) all that well. I met him only once; therefore, admittedly my level of direct emotional investment is rather limited, though that does not mean the gravity of everything is lost on me in any measure. I am instead involved in this indirectly, in that I am emotionally invested in what my friend (S--) is going through with C--. And there has certainly been a lot to go through over the past months of treatments, remissions, relapses, financial absurdity, etc. Throughout, I have watched S-- wrack himself with guilt and geographically imposed impotent frustration. I've tried to be supportive, but what can I offer besides empty platitudes and empathy?

Totally unequipped to succor S-- in any meaningful way through his ordeal, his reaction to C--'s situation astounds me, despite what should be crippling grief.

S-- and I are in many ways polar opposites. He's highly competitive. I am not remotely so, at least not anymore. He did well in school. I barely found school most days. He was a key member of nationally ranked H.S. football and wrestling teams. I spent most of my time watching the girls' team members as I lost 80% of my H.S. tennis matches. S-- is a ridiculously skilled leader and organizer of people and events. I loathe responsibility for others. He built and runs a successful business. I'm not sure if I can even spell "business." He can make fantastically good Mexican food from scratch. I can eat Mexican food. He pledged for a frat in college. I had bit parts in three plays in college. He has earned the respect and esteem of his peers through tireless efforts on their behalf. I beat people into submission with misused hyperbolic vocabulary and oblique derision.

In short, had I met him in Jr. high or high school or college, I would have despised him with unmitigated vehemence and gone to extraordinary lengths to see him groveling swine-like in craven humiliation before the masses.

Luckily, we met at a time when I could see past my petty prejudices and appreciate people who possess qualities that I think are important, which for S-- are a fecund sense of humor, unfailing loyalty, and good natured tolerance and generosity. This is not to say that S-- is not without his faults, he was in a frat after all, but I am surely in no position to judge another's shortcomings, crusty sack of deficiency that I am.

But I'm not writing this to prop S-- up (he has a pretty good sense of self-worth with any padding from me) or describe S--'s personality. After all, you either already know him or you don't and if you don't, you probably live far away. I'm writing this because of S--'s remarkable way of dealing with the refractory state of C--'s circumstances. Personally, I have trouble with grief and bereavement and the events leading up to them. I find myself so unable to process the loss of someone I know, let alone love, that I tend to shut down emotionally when I can or take whatever escape is available at the moment if I can’t. A number of problems result because of this: I miss chances to truly grieve either because I can’t get to that emotional level or because I make or allow myself to be physically absent. Then I feel guilty about that the whole while my unreleased grief slowly corrodes its way out of the cracks in my mind over the space of years.

That’s why S--‘s approach to the tragedy before him impressed my to the point that I feel compelled to write about it. When he got the news about C--, he switched in to action mode rather than be adversely affected by the sorrow and despair that were surely exquisite. Immediately and without waiting for someone else to, S--organized an online support network to create a means for the people concerned with C-- to both with him well and know what they could do for him and his family. S-- then began regular updates on C--‘s condition so all those people who were getting involved through the network know what was going on and feel that their efforts and prayers were appreciated and making some kind of difference. This required him to have regular contact with C-- and his family and throughout, as far as I am privy, has been a consummate supporter and friend, managing mundane concerns and affairs and remaining a beacon of hope and positivity.

Later when some financial pressure developed, S-- organized a huge private auction to raise money. He contacted not only people involved with the support network, but also anyone else he could about donating goods and services for the auction, while simultaneously finding a venue, applying for government permits, getting the word out to people in sundry ways, in addition to solving countless snags directly related and otherwise. Ultimately, his work was a resounding success and a huge amount of money went to assisting C-- ‘s family through his treatments. For me this was impressive because not only was it far beyond anything I’d ever dream of attempting, but he took care of everything over months from the other side of the Pacific. Ridiculous dedication. Who does something like that? I know there must be many such heroes around somewhere, but they are damn scarce around me.

S-- is not looking for any sort of tribute or lauding, and that’s not what I mean to do here. I’ve just been impressed and wanted to say something about what I’ve been privileged to witness. Maybe this is just a feeble attempt to transmit positive Karmic vibes. Maybe I’m just worried about my friend and hope he feels better through what he’s done. In spite of the Universe’s unrelenting display of evidence to the contrary, some things do make sense, truly matter and have real meaning. I merely wish it didn’t take random cosmic malevolence to get a chance see that.

1 comment:

missbehaving said...

How apt that word verification requires I type in 'cries'.

A great post Loren, so well written and written for all the right reasons.