Saturday, April 07, 2007

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0500 - Thanking Mike

Shel Israel wrote a moving tribute to his friendship with Charlie in a recent blog (Shel does this every year on the anniversary of Charlie's death of cancer  Charlie's birthday; Charlie died of cancer). Shel wrote me about this time last year as I was receiving treatment for cancer, mentioning Charlie again and their long-term friendship.

Cancer takes a lot of things away from us - time, energy, opportunities, health, even friends and loved ones. But there are gifts as well as losses, sometimes unexpected, sometimes coming with the regularity of clockwork. One of those gifts I received over the past 18 months was a renewal of a long-term friendship with a childhood buddy and best-man at my wedding, Mike.

Mike's father died of colon cancer at my age. I suppose there is an aspect of that memory, and the inability of a son to say the right thing at the right time to a terminally ill father, that motivated Mike to keep in contact with me from diagnosis through treatment to recovery. He had, because of my similar medical condition, another opportunity to reflect on cancer, death and relationships. And I have to say that, more than any other friend, Mike's support has been consistent, helpful, insightful, and as faithful as one might expect from a good friend.

We live a long distance from one another, Mike in the middle of the country, me here in southwestern Ontario. We have not seen each other face-to-face for quite a few years. But we are on the phone with one another regularly; we correspond frequently, and we share photographs of our families and our cherished possessions - his vintage electric guitar collection is f***in fantastic!

With my recent good news on the most recent CT scan and the fact that I now have no medical tests on my calendar for the first time in over 18 months, I am thinking more about the possibility of getting together to drink a few beer, to disagree about Canadian politics, religion, and anything else that occurs to us. I now have the luxury of anticipating opportunities like that and to say, just by being together, how much I appreciate all he has done for me over the past 18 months, not to mention a lifetime.

Thanks, Mike. You're a good buddy, a true friend, and one of the few who really meant it when you wrote, "I've got your back, Don." You've said the right things at the right time. I know your father would be proud not only of everything you've accomplished, of your family and friendships, but also of your support and care. Thanks.

P.S. 300 posts on this blog; 500 days since my diagnosis - a symbolic day!


shel israel said...


Thanks for a very moving piece. One small point about "Remembering Charlie." I publish it on hiss birthday, not the day he died. I want to honor his life, not his death. It is a pleasure to see you still writing with strength and courage another year later. Keep on going.

Don Spencer said...

Shel, I'm sorry for forgetting that about Charlie (made the correction already). You're a lucky man for having somebody like him in your life.

Best wishes on your new book on Global Neighbourhoods. I look forward to purchasing that one when it is released.