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Thursday, April 23. 2020
Losing someone you love, particularly a family member, is painful. I can't say I know, nobody in my closest circle of friends or family has died. My brother-in-law died 22 years ago, and while we were friendly I wouldn't say we were close. He was family and that was painful enough. For my in-laws it was much worse, but I was more observer and shoulder to cry on.
I received a message from a fraternity brother on Sunday night that my former roommate (also a fraternity brother) had lost his younger (real) brother in a tragic late night car accident on Saturday. I happen to be friendly with my former roommate's older (real) brother through work, and I was friendly with the deceased as well, though only from a distance. My wife knows my former roommate well, as we played beach volleyball for a summer the year she and I started dating, and we've gone to the Preakness every year as part of a large group.
Mrs. Bulldog, having gone through this experience of family loss, insisted I set up a call with all our fraternity brothers as soon as possible. I wasn't sure this was wise. She was adamant. So I checked with my roommate's older brother (who, obviously, was also hurting) to express my condolences and see if this was a good decision. We are all separated by many miles and the lockdown will prevent any of us traveling for a funeral. His reaction was rapid, emphatically positive, and it didn't take much insistence on my part to assure he join.
For 2 hours Tuesday night we videoconferenced with 8 old college buddies, 1 close friend, and 1 older brother. 10 people just sharing experiences. Mostly, however, my former roommate and his brother were expressing grief, sharing their fondest memories, how they will be there for their niece, and all the thoughts and feelings that pass through peoples' minds at moment like this. The rest of us listened, shared some smiles, casual observations, a joke or two where it was fitting, and it felt good to just soak in their memories and feelings. It may be hard for me to empathize, never having lost anyone very close. But I can sympathize and provide some consolation.
As skeptical as I was, I hoped it would be cathartic and meaningful. It seems to have done some good. The older brother sent me a note this morning of an old Jewish saying that grief shared is grief halved. He is a lay minister, and we began to share our thoughts on the nature of God. We concluded a videoconference may not be an optimal setting, yet the appearance of everybody on that call was evidence of God and God's love.
There is a line in The Big Chill: "a long time ago we knew each other for a short period of time; you don't know anything about me. It was easy back then. No one had a cushier berth than we did. It's not surprising our friendship could survive that. It's only out there in the real world that it gets tough." As I contemplate this movie quote, I realized something. If it wasn't for technology, this quote may have described my relationship with these fellows perfectly. I doubt I would be as close with some of them as I have become. I reconnected with many as a result of the internet. The internet provides a source of communion.
We knew each other well for 2-4 years 37 years ago. Some of us fell off the map for many years. Others maintained relationships. In many cases we've had to renew old friendships. Even now, sometimes, we struggle to maintain these connections. Technology has helped us avoid the loss that comes from no longer living together with few responsibilities. It has, now, helped us lean on each other in times of need and sorrow. It has provided great benefit at a very unusual and difficult period in everybody's life.
The conference ended with an exchange that summed up how useful the videoconference was in restoring humor and good feeling.
Steve: "No, not like yesterday. Yesterday was a crappy day. We'll make it like the day before yesterday. That was a pretty good day."
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Sir - I am so very sorry for your sadness and the death of your friend. It makes my heart heavy to think of the phone calls made to tell people of the accident. I have experienced the death of people close - including my younger brother in a car crash when he was 19 and I was 23 - as well as others over the following years. The only thing that helped me get through the days until my grief softened was being with and talking with people who loved that person as much as I did. I am so glad you listened to your wife. You helped your friend cope and made a difference for your other friends. I’m sorry for your troubles.
I am 77 years old. My experience dates from the 40's and indeed things were different then. As a child I had 4 siblings die from diseases most 20 somethings today couldn't even name. Four adult extended family members died in our home. That is they came here to die and my mother knew this and cared for them. One of my uncles died from polio and as a 5 year old I can remember going to the hospital with my mother to visit him. He was in an iron lung which was both noisy and literally moved as it breathed for him. I watched him in the upside down mirror as he spoke to my mother. My mother had polio as a child and she was terrified that we, her children, would get it. I can remember so clearly that after Dr. Salk discovered the vaccine and we got it (in school) my mother was greatly relieved. The family story is that I died at age 6 and our family doctor broke speed laws getting to our house and gave me a injection into my heart to bring me back to life.
My point in all of this is that death is pretty gruesome AND prior to about 1955 or so pretty common from diseases we don't worry about anymore. Covid-19 is the new pandemic. It is the whooping cough of the 21st century. My 2 year old brother died from whooping cough in 1949. Have you ever heard a baby with whooping cough? It is a long and continuous cough that ends when your lungs are totally empty but you can't breath because your body is still trying to cough. My brother and I slept in the same room and he lived about two weeks with this terrible cough. My mother would sit with him at night and I would make believe I was asleep. I could hear my mother sob sometimes and it broke my heart. She would sing softly to him when he was inbetween coughing spells. I assume she was trying to lull him to sleep. My father had to work everyday, there was no welfare, he had to sleep and go to work everyday so the pain of all this was on my mother. I got whooping cough too, I felt that terrible feeling of having totally coughed up all the air in your lungs desperately needing a breath but your body still convulses trying to cough so you can't breathe. That is what it is like to die from the pneumonia that covid-19 causes.
We had a 70 something uncle who came to stay with us for three weeks in 1950. He was dying from pneumonia. I heard him every night coughing his lungs up struggling to survive. He was a nice man, I knew him before he was sick and he seemed so healthy then.
My older sister died from diphtheria. She was six and I was four. She was sick for a long time, she looked awful, large dark rings under her eyes and bleary eyed and painful looking. My father would sit and hold her for hours every night until she fell asleep. I can still hear the adults talking about it because they called it "black diphtheria" and that sounded so ominous to me.
At age 7 I had my tonsils taken out. I was so sick that the doctor believed this was the only thing that would save me. He operated at our home on the family table with my mother assisting him. It worked, after that my health was better.
About 30 years ago my dad got hospital acquired pneumonia and was very ill and in the ICU. I sat with him that last night when he died and held his hand. I remember being aware that this big strong man whose hand was bigger and stronger than mine shouldn't be dying from this. He was on a ventilator with his hands and feet tied to the bed. That is how he died tied hands and feet with a ventilator down his throat and on a morphine drip to keep him just enough out of it that he couldn't fight against the treatment. That is how covid-19 patients die in the hospital if they are lucky.
Death is not neat and clean it is ugly. It is days/weeks of suffering both the patient and the family followed by welcome relief for both the patient and the family. That is what covid-19 is. You will either die in an induced coma tied to the bed in a ICU ward or die as though you were steadily water boarded for 96 hours straight at home.
A month ago I called the daughter of a childhood friend. We live 3000 miles apart but I send him a Christmas card every year and for the last two years it had been returned as undeliverable. His daughter confirmed that he had died. He got a serious cancer two years ago and at some point it became unbearable enough that he took his own life. That was his choice and likely a blessing considering the alternative.
I have half a dozen old friends who have passed away, most from cancer.
I wasn't specifically commenting on Covid, but you raise a point.
Any death, right now, is going to be like what we went through - unable to meet with friends, have a funeral, or mourn properly.
If you die of Covid, you die alone. No friends or family allowed nearby...assuming you die at the hospital.
A family friend of my father's died recently, at home. Was 90, was isolating, got a UTI, had to go in for 4 days, came home. 2 weeks later sick with Covid and died 4 days later. In a sense, he was 'lucky'. He died with his family around him, at home.
My roommate and his family have to wait for their memorial service.
It's nice we could do something for them. However little it was.
re It's nice we could do something for them. However little it was.
Sometimes "However little it was." is enormous for the recipient. We just don't always know it.
So when in doubt, showing a even minimal amount of thoughtfulness is well worth the effort.
We need to be reminded how fortunate we are compared to what our ancestors went through. We are indeed blessed. Thank you.
Gotta love those adamant women. Well, when they're on your side.
Good friends are hard to find and harder to keep. I grew up in a small town and have remained close, tho not geographically, to seven friends who go back to grade school days. There were seven of us and we were friends in all senses of the word. Our high school years knitted us together in unbelievable ways. We made the usual platitudes when we graduated in 1966, but we really meant it and have kept in touch ever since. Only five of us left--one killed in Viet Nam in 1968 and another dropped dead from an undiagnosed heart defect at 54 years old. We are now scattered across the USA but we semi-annually talk on the phone and every time that happens it is as if we are picking up on conversations we had just the day before. One of the annual calls is pretty tearful as it is on the anniversary of our friend who died in Viet Nam. Jack never had the opportunity to fall in love, get married, have kids, and now grandchildren like the rest of us...that is worth a tear or two. Our wives think we are nuts, but they do indulge us. When each of us celebrated our 70th birthday in 2018, there was a "surprise" birthday party for each of us and even though we are widely scattered around the USA, each of us got to celebrate with the gang. A phone conversation would go like this--Are you going to Tom's, or Marty's, or George's, etc., birthday party? Answer--Yes, I'll see you there. And so it goes. God willing it will continue for a while as the next milestone will be funerals.
I don't wish to make light of Bulldog's loss, but a lot of deaths are preventable. The medical establishment just won't give people the medicine they need, because they want to make a lot of money. Here is a short excerpt written by a fellow dying from lung cancer.
It’s Lung Cancer
Stage III, inoperable. Median survival prognosis: One year after diagnosis. Which is, as it turns out, the reason I haven’t been accomplishing much, including posting here and making progress on the sequel to Temporary Duty. The details are complicated, and I don’t have the energy to fully explain.
Medical insurance? Of course not. My doctor says it doesn’t matter much. Going full-bag on treatment, chemo and radiation and all that, for this particular cancer might, on average, add six months to the survival time at massive expense — and the quality of life for that additional half year would be miserable.
Now read this:
About one-in-eight women in the United States and the United Kingdom develop breast cancer.
That's a horrible statistic, and I wish that there were an easy way to treat this illness. But hope is on the horizon. Several research facilities have confirmed that a chemical called Piperidine is very effective against both skin cancer, and breast cancer. But you can't just go out and buy a bottle of Piperidine, because it's not for sale. Pharmaceutical companies don't make money buy selling cheap medicine. They make money by selling expensive medicine. The surprising thing is that Piperidine is easy to make. Fire Ants, the bane of every homeowner, are full of Piperidine. So if you put a few hundred fire ants into a blender, then you'll get a Piperidine paste. But how do you separate the Piperidine? Either by squeezing the paste in a shop press; or by chemical separation. But you wouldn't know the correct dose.
The point here is that Piperidine is a proven effective anti-cancer drug, but the pharmaceutical companies won't sell it.
But who knows? Maybe some company in Mexico will make it, they make just about everything else. So you'll never see a Piperidine clinical study on breast cream; or inhalers. There's no money in it.
This is just more crazy conspiracy theories. First I do not believe for a second that doctors are dishonest, only in it for the money or that they would simply allow people to die. So when you go there it is clear that you are full of BS
As for the piperidine; it is probably more likely that this not true. If there was sufficient evidence that a drug could cure cancer doctors would demand it. More likely this is like that meme going around that dog deworming medication can cure cancer. There is a lot of misinformation about what is healthy and what is medicine.
As for the pharmaceuticals; they are the most attacked group by the conspiracy theorists. Again simply by making that attack you destroy your credibility. But if you believe that this medicine is great why not form a pharmaceutical company and manufacture the medicine??? It's a free country.
One last point; for most people with lung cancer it is a death sentence. Depending on when they discover it your life expectancy can be 6 months to 4 years or so. Much is claimed about extended your life by 6 months but in general that is debatable and the choice to forgo the treatment is often the best choice unless you enjoy spending your last days in a hospital suffering from the treatment in the vain hope to gain a few months of life. It's a tough choice and everyone has to make it themselves but it is necessary and legitimate do do that.