Sunday, August 07, 2005

I'll do anything you ever dreamed to be complete

Last summer...last summer sucked. It sucked hardcore. I hated last summer.

I spent last summer crying nearly every day because life just plain old sucked and I was fighting with my best friend. It was horrible and hurtful and I can't remember ever feeling as awful as I did during the months where we were barely speaking to each other, so strained and stressed. I felt like my heart had been torn out.

And the middle of it the midst of the strain and the hurt...I wrote...

(Reproduced from my personal journal, July 15th, 2004)

And every night I think of you.

On September 23rd, 1998, I got a sweet e-mail from someone with whom I had been bantering at RASFWRJ about music. He had been talking about a song that I had never heard, explaining how a line in the song just stole his breath away and brought tears to his eyes, and I expressed a desire to hear the song. Lo, there he was in my in-box, offering me this song and telling me how he was still misty-eyed over this song, even though he'd been playing hell out of it. (The song was Slide, by the Goo Goo Dolls.)

Later that day, our schedules synced enough to connect to ICQ at the same time so he could transfer the song. While the song transferred, we talked. The next thing we knew, it was 6AM in Toledo, 3AM in Berkeley, the song had finished 5 hours previously, and we had spent the entire night talking about books and music, laughing at each other, and slowly discovering that we had way more in common that we had expected, given our difference in age.

That was the night I "met" David for the first time.

Since then, with very few exceptions, we've talked to each other in some fashion every single day. A brief flurry of e-mail, an ICQ conversation, a few minutes on the telephone...just a few minutes to check in and say "Hi, I'm thinking about you. How's your day?"

He went away for three days once, and had no internet access and wasn't comfortable with a long distance call from where he was staying. When he came back, we pounced on each other over ICQ. "Oh my god, I missed talking to you so much! Let's not do that again, OK?"

We're a little better about that now, having spent so much time talking that we can speak in half sentences and know what the other means...a couple days of not getting to talk though, while not as traumatic as they used to seem, still seem strange and incomplete and vaguely wrong.

Most nights, still, six years later, we talk. Sometimes we talk until the sun has already crept up and asked me what the hell I think I'm still doing at my desk. When we're lucky enough to be in the same place for a couple days, we'll go off to sit together and talk...sometimes until oh-holy-fuck o'clock...realize we've been up all night...and keep talking anyway.

Night time is still my favorite time to talk to him. It just seems so much calmer then.

Every night, I think of him.

You're everything to me.

He called me one night, when I was going through some Really Bad Shit. We had already spoken on the phone several times by then, had teased each other about the way we sounded...he said I sounded short, I told him he sounded like a total brain...but really, his voice was soothing and sweet and made me feel calm.

After trying to console me online about the Really Bad Shit, he told me he was going to call me. When I picked up, he gently asked me if there was anything he could do to help...

In the dark, I whispered my pain and frustration through tears of sadness and rage. In the dark, he whispered back to me...softly repeating my name and telling me it would be OK, telling me that he would always be there to listen when I needed him, slowly soothing my aching heart and calming my raw nerves with his gentle care and soft voice. Across the miles between us, he made me feel safe and comforted, and I knew then that I could trust him with anything. When I've been certain that there was nowhere for me to turn, he's always been there to tell me that it will all work out. He's always listened and never judged.

I've done the same for him since then, listened to his fears and frustrations, been there to prop him up when he felt like he was falling down, been there to catch him when he's stumbled, given him my ear when he's needed it.

Last November, though, I was ill prepared for the propping up he needed and very nearly collapsed myself. He was diagnosed with a degenerative illness - Alport's Syndrome.

It was all I could do to hold myself together and talk to him and try to reassure him that his doctors would know what to do. When he went to bed for the night, I crept out to a quiet place and cried my heart out. I must have cried for hours, I felt so helpless and so angry that someone I cared for so much was getting kicked in the head by Life.

His illness has been progressing of late. He's back on ProCrit shots to stave off anemia, and learned today to administer them himself. He learned a few weeks ago that his creatinine levels are higher than expected - an indication of increasingly impaired kidney function. The nephrologist's appointment is yet to be made.

He's been reluctant to talk about his illness, not wanting to frighten me and not wanting to scare the hell out of himself. But he cracked a little this week, talking about the impending need for dialysis and eventually a transplant.

"I just hope I have some time."

Sunshine...if it comes to that...and we can have one of mine.

I would rather endure the pain and the risk of surgery than live this miserable life knowing that he is suffering...or has gone to the Sunless Lands.

All this in the midst of one of the worst periods of tension we've ever had between us.

He's everything to me.

And every day I think about the way it used to be

Every day, I watch the health news, waiting for the breakthrough that will save David from this disease. Every day, I read every scrap I can find, looking for hope that something will be developed in time for him.

Every day, I wish he didn't have to deal with this. Every day, I wish the clock could turn back, to give him more time, to give the researchers frantically searching for a cure more time.

Every day, I wish for the days when he didn't have this hanging over him, when he was healthy and cheerful and ready to grab Life by the ass and make it his bitch.

Every day, I think about the way it used to be.

Wishing for the past isn't helping the researchers find a cure, though. Wishing for the past isn't going to keep David out from under the knife, either.

From what I've read recently, there may be hope, and maybe even sooner rather than later. Researchers at the University of Utah have isolated three mutations of the gene responsible for Alport's. If they can figure out a way to shut that damned thing off, it could open the door for gene therapy and a direct treatment. It might even happen in time to help David. They need time. They need information.

They need money.

I worked a lot of hours last week. Today, I got paid. There are things I need, and some things that I want...but nothing that I need or want more than for my best friend to be rid of this illness that could steal him away from me.

I gave half of my paycheck today to the National Kidney Foundation.

There are thousands of Alport's patients all over the world, but selfish me, there's only one I give a damn about. If they don't find the treatment in time, or he can't get a transplant in might as well be the end of the world.

I found out about Blog-A-Thon too late to blog for The National Kidney Foundation this year, so instead, I'll offer this: make a donation to the NKF in David's honor, then ask me to write about something. Ask me to tell you a story. Ask me for recipes. Ask me to tell your future. Ask me to sing you a song of stars or paint you a picture of sun-kissed tears.

Just...before you try to hold off the end of the world. Even if it's only for one day.

That's why I'm here this year. That entry is the real beginning of this wild ride that has been Blogathon 2005, that steamy summer day when my life was crashing down around my head and I was on the outs with the one person I knew could help me feel better.

Some things...they're just worth digging in, hanging on, and fighting for. A friend who won't laugh at your jammies and will stick by you even after you've both screamed your guts out at each other? Hell yeah.


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