Friday, May 19, 2006
Another Friend Moves On
I don't like to think of anyone dying, his bones resting in the earth. My myth(not my belief) is that all go to another plane to contemplate their earthly life and decide the importance of advancing to another level. Some early Indians of North America believed in levels of Heaven: the highest was occupied by soldiers, the lowest by slaves. In between were levels for babies who died young, and for mothers. I've lost a childhood friend whose battle with cancer was hard-fought. If he were Aztec, he'd be sitting on the highest plane.
I visited B in San Antonio last November. Our conversations were about high school and college days, forgotten loves, hated routines, teen struggles and inner feelings. I updated him on the who's and where's of our high school friends. B and I recalled our unsuccessful tryout for high school cheerleaders, Civil Air Patrol outings, fellowship at church events, Saturday night Youth for Christ, and finding time to ride around town on Saturday afternoons.
B came into my life when my aunt married a second time and her new husband had a son, a sixth grader at the time. Fate gave us each a sibling. My sister was too young to share my life and B fit the bill exactly. He and I were each other's dates when we wanted to impress or make jealous someone else, companions on air flights with CAP hunting imaginary downed airplanes, or just sitting in the park talking. He confessed he hadn't been the best kid in town in those days and a lousy dad later. I reminded him that parent guides weren't handed out at the hospital; we had to fly by the seat of our pants. He said he flew a plane better than that.
Marriage and family life separated us. For over 30 years we had little connection, his living overseas most of that time. He went on to become a caring chaplain in the U.S. Army and retiring after 27 years. During his time in Vietnam, he was the subject of a Mississippi newspaper article about a local soldier nurturing others on the battlefield. When he retired we began to get news of each other.
After the death of his dad, we exchanged email addresses. I didn't write for several years. When I made the time, his wife D responded. His cancer regime had begun and rocked back and forth over seven years. In the meantime, D, died of cancer. B had support from son R and wife S to ease the numerous low times. He was so proud that he and D had built a Sunday School class in his church from four members to a whopping 200 who supported him throughout. They, in turn, had a magnificent teacher. Perhaps deep down he felt his work for the Lord offset failure as a dad to his other adult children.
May 18 at 5 p.m. B died in his sleep. Goodby for now, B, we had fun times, sad times, loving times. I thank you for being yourself, for staying alive long enough to discover that I loved and appreciated you as a brother. Give a hug to D, you dad, and your stepmom for me.
"Honor your father and your mother,that the days may be long in the land, which the Lord your God gives you." (Exodus 20:12)