M. A Letter to the World
(A Letter to A Friend Gone By – ?)
Well I guess you took the easy way out and didn’t respond to my last email, which is pretty much what I expected. I gave you the ‘do not feel you have to respond’ bit on the end just to see what you would do. You didn’t disappoint me.
I’ve had a long long time to think over the last 7 months or so. Reflecting on so many aspects of my life. The good times of which there were many, the bad times, which I’m lucky to say have been few. I’ve reflected on the people I’ve known in my life, the places I’ve been lucky enough to see, the achievements and the failures.
I’ve reflected on the fact that I dropped out of school with 4 ‘O’ Levels to my name and not very good grades at that, to end up as a respected consultant within the IT industry. To achieve this I had to overcome many of my own shortcomings, namely lack of education and knowledge, lack of experience and the worst, lack of self confidence. I had to fight to crawl my way up ‘the ladder’, and none of it came easily. I have always thought outside the box, looking at issues and problems in a different ways to most other people. This way of thinking has proved in some ways to be a blessing and in some ways a curse. I always felt like a square peg in a round hole and I never accepted the status quo.
Everything comes with a price and mine was stress. I was pretty much always on tender hooks, expecting to be sacked or let go at any time. Every customer visit left me wondering if I was going to get a bad report or not. I was always looking for the next ‘invention’, products that I thought of, I designed, I coded and developed the methodology by which they could be successfully used. I guess I could have just taken the salary, not made waves, kept my head below the parapet and had an easier life, but that was not me.
But stress was my downfall, I could not relax and I could never switch my brain off. It was always running at high speed and the only way I could shut it up was by using alcohol.
In America things got worse, much worse. I had to fight tooth and nail for everything here. I still am having to fight, except this time I am fighting for my life. Linda has been and always will be a tower of strength for me. Together we have gone through so much and our relationship today is stronger than ever, way stronger than I could ever have imagined or wished for.
But in life, when we think of what has really mattered to us and I mean really mattered, it is the people. It is the people who give us the good times, the bad times, the highs and the lows. It is the people who give us many of our lasting memories.
I’ve thought a lot in the last 7 months or so. I’ve learnt a lot as well. I’ve learnt about compassion and caring. I’ve learnt about both the fragility and the strength of the human body. I’ve learnt about the dogged determination that people have when they are faced with almost certain death. I’ve learnt a lot about the ‘other halves’, the partners who are giving their all to support and care for their loved ones. These people are the true heroes.
Disease is awful. This disease is particularly awful. This is not like a cancer where there is usually a pretty good prognosis of life expectancy, or if lucky, remission. This disease will strike at you in so many different ways, none of them nice. Death maybe be quick or agonizingly slow as the body degenerates. None of us sufferers know what tomorrow will bring or even if there is going to be a tomorrow.
Most people ‘on the street’ know nothing about this disease. It is not publicized, not discussed, little research money is put into it, all because it carries a stigma. Mention the word cirrhosis and the majority will imagine a skid row drunk who deserves no sympathy or pity. Most people wont even know that it is fatal, that other than a transplant there is no treatment or cure; that it is the third biggest killer in the United States. Most people will never know about the terrible pain and the terrible suffering that is part and parcel of this disease.
In truth, most people don’t want to know.
As I said before, I’ve learnt an awful lot in the recent months. I’ve learnt a lot about people, especially ‘friends’. I learned early on in this disease that the very people who professed to be friends, the people who would turn up religiously at parties because they could have a good time at our expense, the people who I thought I could count on were the very same people who, when I was nearly dying in hospital late last year did nothing. Not for my sake was I upset about this, I was upset because none of them, other than a very special handful could even be bothered to call on, phone or email Linda to see if they could help in any way. None of them. Seven months down the line those same people have still never got in touch.
But, I’ve learnt to forgive them even though they have hurt me badly. I will never understand them, but I can forgive them. I may never talk to them again if I see them, but they are ignorant and live in their own selfish worlds, so I can forgive them.
What I find difficult to forgive is people I have known for years, who I really thought were close friends, people who I thought I could trust and rely on. People for whom I would do anything for. People like yourself.
I have been lucky to get so much help, support and sheer kindness from folk whom I never thought would ever give a damn about me, but they did.
It saddens me deeply that someone like yourself cannot take the time of day even to write an email. The other people I can forgive, but the one relationship I’ve had in my life I cannot reconcile and come to terms with is with you.
I don’t know if I will live or die. I do know that with every passing day my odds of survival decrease. Unless a miracle occurs in terms of a transplant, I know I have a limited life span.
So, I am ‘clearing house’. I’m getting rid of anything and everything that is superfluous in my life. The only things I will keep are those things that matter to Linda and myself. I don’t want to go to my grave with bad feelings about anything or anyone. If the worst comes to the worst I want to be at peace with everything.
You are an unfinished piece of my life. Try as I might I cannot understand let alone forgive, what seems to me to be such a callous disregard to both myself and of course Linda.
I don’t know where we go from here, probably nowhere, but I needed to get this off my mind because it hurts me and I have pain and sorrow enough to deal with.
I hope you read this and try to understand where I’m coming from. Better still I hope you may wish to reconcile this relationship and make things good. I’m not going to give you the option this time of ‘do not feel you have to respond’.
I’m sure you will do what in your heart of hearts you feel is the right thing.
But as with everything with this disease, attitude is everything. Every fight becomes another challenge and we have to grit our teeth and just get on with it. Every emotion, thought and deed needs to be directed, like a laser into getting ourselves better. Even the bitterness I felt towards our fair weather friends, I used. I used it to focus my mind on getting better, to not be beaten and to not go out with a whimper!!!!
My dear sister described my anger as being destructive but it wasn’t. She just didn’t understand how I was using my anger to help myself by boosting my determination to get better.
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