I have a very dear friend, David, who was recently diagnosed with active cancer for the second time this year. He successfully battled throat cancer from March to July, was declared fully cancer-free, then he and his wife allowed me to serve as their buyer's agent on the purchase of a new home in August. A couple of weeks ago they told him that he now has a tumor in his sublingual area which will require surgery at MD Anderson in Houston in the next few days.
He is currently in a hospital in Austin, and I went to see him yesterday. He seemed tired, but in good spirits. I even managed to get a few smiles out of him. I didn't stay a long time, because I didn't want to wear him out. He has trouble communicating with his voice, so he was writing on a clipboard sometimes as well. I actually had to "translate" for the nurse a couple of times. Basically, he looked like a very sick, slightly older and thinner version of the David that I have known. He is only 49 years old.
I have known David for about 12 years now, and he was one of the very first people that I told of my decision to get into real estate. I still remember that we were standing on the balcony of a downtown Austin hotel, at a party celebrating a mutual friend's college graduation party (this would have been around Christmas 1996). His face lit up like a proud father: "Good for you! You will do well in that business. It suits your personality." As a lifelong salesperson, David was more than qualified to make this statement. It was a breath of fresh air to me, since I have enormous respect for him.
It seems especially poignant and difficult to me that someone who has affected so many people with his voice will likely have at least a few months during which he is unable to speak at all. I know that the surgery they are planning will likely end up requiring months of speech therapy for him. Frankly, he is one of the most social and energetic people that I have ever known, and he has never been shy about...well, about anything. He shares his faith with others, and he is always quick with a joke or a kind word. He even taught my eight-year old son several funny handshakes that my boy still likes to show off around new people. Encouraging, boisterous, and yes, even a little bit loud - these are words to describe my friend.
Believe me, this post has a bigger point, and I will get there eventually - bear with me, please.
David has always been a giant in my eyes, and he is one of those people that is not afraid to stand up for his beliefs or to challenge someone when it is needed. I have always admired this quality in him, among many others.
When he went through cancer the first time, I told David that I loved him for the first time in our friendship. Why did I wait to do this until he was sick? It really wasn't that hard to say.
Yesterday, during my somewhat short visit, I told him a few other things that were important to me. I have a men's group that I meet with every week at my church (9 other guys), and I shared with David that we were praying for him. I also told him (truthfully) that I had shared with those guys some other things about him, namely that I had always admired his ability to share his faith with others, and that he was my hero. I again told him that I love him, and he said it back to me. Again, this wasn't hard for me to say, because it is the truth.
I don't ever want to have regrets with my loved ones. I have lost several close family members, but I never doubted that any of them knew of my love for them. It may sound trite, but I feel that it is important to share how you feel with those that are important to you.
I will continue to pray for my buddy, and I hope we can again share lunch or a golf outing (he is a golf maniac!). Regardless of what happens, I won't have to kick myself for not sharing my feelings with him.
Thanks for taking time to read this post.