Monday, March 17, 2008

A friend of mine is dying

Someone I know will probably soon lose a four year battle with cancer. I've have been hearing that he is about to die for two or three years now. But he was in remission for a year, and then it was sort of up and down. Whenever I would see him, he was more up. He can't really be dying if he's up walking around and such, right?

I have not kept up with the details of his illness. At this point, I don't even remember where the cancer started. Between the days that I wasn't really paying attention and the days when I just thought that he shouldn't have to repeat the story for the hundredth time, I haven't heard a lot of the gory details. I saw him several weeks ago, and he was eating and he didn't look too bad. He was thin, and he looked tired, but he was talking and laughing and such. He was mostly himself.

He was talking about some procedure that he was supposed to go into the hospital for, but there was some snafu and it either wasn't going to be done or it was being postponed or something. So he got to spend the weekend with his friends instead. Not like he was really looking forward to another trip to the hospital anyway.

Okay, so a few days after I saw him the doctors got their act together and did the procedure or a similar procedure or whatever. I wasn't really paying attention and I didn't go visit him in the hospital. And it was in Dallas anyway, and I hate Dallas. So that seemed to go okay, and he was home before I even knew what they were doing whatever it was that they did.

Only Saturday he went back to the hospital. He's dehydrated and he couldn't sleep. He'd had the hiccups for like three days solid. He's not eating much. With all that going on he's having trouble talking, and when he talks sometimes it doesn't make a lot of sense.

So Saturday I was going to meet some of my friends and we would usually go to dinner and such, but I was going to leave early because I had to go home and pack and such before going out of town for the week. Only before I tell people that I'm leaving, we find out about our friend being back in the hospital, so we end up going there instead.

I met some of his family. His family is a very religious church going bunch, though not of the same type of church as mine. And then after a while they left and it was just us and the friend's wife. His wife was telling us that she didn't think his family was really dealing with it. They had put him on a prayer list and just expected him to be healed or something. When that didn't happen, they said it was God's plan, and now they are waiting for a miracle.

So the friend's wife is talking about this stuff and she's just rolling her eyes and such.

So that was all a bit weird for me. Especially since one of my friends who has totally different religious beliefs than these people would sit next to them and talk that she was one of them, and what she is really thinking is that these poor people are delusional.

I pretty much know what his family is thinking. They aren't really expecting a miracle, or at least, not in the sense that his body would be healed. They hope for that kind of miracle, and I have seen that happen and probably they have too, but they do see that the odds are against that happening. They just think that this is happening for a reason that they aren't aware of yet. And there are other things that they pray for besides healing his body. Since my friend is no longer in their church, and I'm not sure how young he was when he left, they may in fact be praying for his soul. They might be praying that he gets saved before he dies if he wasn't already saved, or that others would be saved during this time of crisis, or something like that. It would certainly be nice if the cancer could be cured, but at this point I don't think his family really believes that is going to happen.

So the situation of going to visit a dying friend is weird enough, and I never know what to say. But here I really don't know what to say. His wife is talking about his family's religious beliefs and rolling her eyes and almost making fun of them, and everyone else is standing there nodding their heads. So I can't even say the usual stuff that people in my church would say like he'll be in a better place and such. If he isn't saved, he won't be in a better place at all. And I certainly don't want to upset his family by asking if they think he is saved. But I do think that their prayers have more to do with his relationship with God than with his physical health.


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The Absurdist said...

Sweetie, I am so sorry that both you and your friend are going through this.

I have had a lot of death in my life, and a lot of it has been cancer. I am with you in spirit, since I can't be there in person for you.

If you need to come to Dallas, come on and stay with me, and I will drive you where you need to go. I know Dallas sucks, and it's hard to get around here.


dmarks said...

I know it's hard to know what to say in situations like that. I've not had to go through this with a friend, but I have with my father.

It good that he has a bunch of friends and family with him at this time.

And aren't blind spam comments like those from "Webcam" with all the smiles even more out of place here?

Unforced Rhythms of Grace said...

It is always hard to watch a friend die. It makes us question life's purpose and why is God doing what He does. We were made by God and for God, and until we figure that out, life isn't going to make sense. Life is a series of problems: Either we are in one now, we are just coming out of one, or we're getting ready to go into another one.

The reason for this is that God is more interested in our character than our comfort.

God is more interested in making our life holy than He is
in making our life happy.

We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the
goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.

No matter how good things are in your life, there is always
something bad that needs to be worked on.

And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is
always something good you can thank God for.

Our life here is for preparation for our life there, with God. I think people that don't have a relationship with God find this difficult to comprehend. But no matter is always difficult to watch a friend die.

I love this following thoughts.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD.

Dame Honoria Glossop said...

Sometimes I think it's easier being the sick person than it is being the loved/loving one who has to watch you being sick and getting worse.