The Adventures of Kidney Boy

A Journal About Living With End Stage Renal Disease. Dialysis. Transplants. Love. Family. Friends. The Unsung Donor. This is my life, from the end of a needle to the bottom of a pill bottle.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

The Warmth of The Sun and of Friends Long Gone

 It was unseasonably warm today in Central New York.  Just five days ago, it was well below freezing, but today I saw my thermometer read 74 degrees F at one point.  So, being sunny and warm, I took a little drive out in the country, and listened to some music as some respectably loud volumes. This is a favorite passtime of mine; gives me space to clear my mind and relax a bit, and I always love the sights on some of these old country roads near me. But as I drove by one particular street, my brain wandered - down that street was the home a friend of mine.

He passed away almost two years ago now - cancer got ahold of him, and finally did him in.  Not without a fight from him, for sure. I always admired his struggle - he often talked with me about it, knowing my own struggles with in-center treatments, needles, medicines and doctor's visits.  But he always kept a positive air around him - it was inspiring.  He used to cook and bake a lot, and bring it to the nurses in the oncology center he went to.  Even on his days off.  He cared about the people who cared for him.  He was also an avid local music fan - often seen about town at the hippest gigs, camera in hand, snapping photos of the musical adventures of my peers.  I'd known him for a long time; he was the father of a friend of mine in high school.  He'd seen me grow up, from a bit of a punk to the paunchy, bald old man I'd become.  But he was always a big supporter of me in anything I did.  I always felt the love from him.

One of the last times I saw him, I was playing a gig with some friends of mine at a local bar.  They had a gig, and let me sit in for a few tunes, and they put out a collection jar to help me with the bills incoming from my dialysis treatments and other medical ailments.  There were a lot of folks there, but when I saw him, I lit up.  During a setbreak, I stepped outside to get some air and he was outside - gave me a big hug, and we talked about we were doing respectively.  He played off the worst of it, like usual. But he smiled and told me how great I was, and how he was happy to see me grow up to become who I was. I had to go back in, but he hugged me again and pressed his hand into mine.  Inside his hand was a paper bill.  

"This is for you. Spend it on something for you.  You deserve it."  I thanked him, and shoved it into my pocket to look at later.  I was just happy to see my friend.  The gig went on, we rocked into the night, and though I was exhausted by nights end, I was happy in the support I got and the music I played.  I packed up my stuff, helped the band pack up, and I rolled back home.  Later that night, before bed, I emptied my pockets, and found the now rumbled bill in my pocket.

A hundred dollar bill stared back at me, with "For Steve" written in Sharpie on it.  I'll never forget that - and I'll never forget him. That was Jack - he gave a lot of himself to other people.  I will miss his face when I go out and about, and when I drive past the street where he lived, I will always think of him. We should all be so lucky to have such friends in our lifetimes, and I often wonder how the hell I amassed so many wonderful friends in my time here.  People may be gone, but their warmth certainly lives on, for me, in simple memories.

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