I had dinner the other night with one of, if not my best friend, Fred.
Fred and I have been through a lot together. We met over 20 years ago at work, working in the ad business and working our asses off as we were trying to move up the so called ranks. It was an instant friendship, as we both came from similar backgrounds but grew up 3,000 miles apart. He started in the business sweeping floors, cleaning the stat camera and running errands for the owner. I started in the mailroom stocking the Coke machines, sorting mail, moving furniture and running film back and forth from Downtown LA to Hollywood. We both wanted to be in the creative department, making ads and commercials and working with our brains instead of digging ditches or some other form of manual labor. And the odds were against us for many reasons.
As we sat across each other, I began to tell him some things I never told him. And for that matter, never told anyone except for Teresa. I told him the struggles I had as I was going through my treatment. Why? We were talking about the old days, trying to remember some names and faces from 20+ years. Facebook has helped our memories, as John had posted some shots from our JWT days. As we usually do, the conversation covered a lot of ground until I told him that the chemo and radiation had done some damage to my memory. He laughed and said, "oh man, that can't happen. I've always relied on you to put the names and faces together. You never forgot any of that stuff. I do, and I didn't have chemo!"
For some reason I told him that the gaps were being closed, but that some may never be filled. I told him about the times I stayed up all night, sitting in the bathroom vomiting and crapping at the same time. I told him of the times I summoned the ever-powerful will of my mind, convincing myself to hang on until the morning so I could be alive another day. If only I could see daylight, I knew I would live another day. And with another day, there was hope of many more to come.
The look on Fred's face was one of amazement, shock and empathy all at once. All he could say was, "Man." He didn't have to say anything. I knew when I was going through the treatments, he was there for me. He didn't bother me all the time or tell me he knew how I felt or how he knew someone else who had cancer and what they went through. He was just there whenever I needed him. I felt his support, prayers and friendship. He, like a lot of my friends––Ted, Jeffrey, Larry, Tom, Francis, Ben, Richard, Craig, Mick, Lance––called when they felt it, talked to me when I needed it and visited when I was beating the hell out of the cancer. And there were so many more people and friends, waaaaaay to many to list, who were there for me.
Thank God, for my friends. I never would have made it without them.