Joe, Andrew & Wayne -- Part 16

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Wayne on Mindspring

Andrew says "Wayno, keep writing", so I keep writing. It's an addiction. People want to know if we write this in a few sittings. No. Except for flashback sections (which are pulled from notes) each day's entry is written on that day. Sometimes it's just phrases in our word processor because Andrew or I are too sick to write full sentences and paragraphs. We write at breakfast, lunch, afternoon, evening, 2:00 a.m. or 5:00 a.m. -- Sunday through Saturday. There's very little about writing that's easy. Neither Andrew or I (or Joe before us) are writers by trade. Joe and I are both computer geeks. Andrew is a financial analyst/business systems analyst/Microsoft products instructor. He does more writing then us, but not of this type. And his writing is still limited to the 'lefty/righty' style you saw in Part 15.

But, as I said, it's become an addiction. Even when I was home, in late October and early November with my kidney infection, Andrew's laptop was beside me on my bed or on my lap, pillows propped behind me, wrting mere sentences as the day went by. I was resting (for those few who wish to give me a lecture); just my own style of it. The journals are a chronicle of our lives and our love. One of our readers said to us a few months ago that he cannot read the sex parts because it's too intimate a look into Joe and Andrew's (or Andrew's and my) sex life. But that's what the Nifty Archive is all about; intimacy, though you'll find more sex than love in a lot of it. Joe and Andrew together found this public forum in order to tell people what love, friendship, hardship, rising above it (somehow), and life is about. Our readers number close to 3400, growing about 75-100 each month. You are all ages, male and female, from every place that has a name, in the US and internationally.

My poor long gone English teacher from Maine is probably spending her days sighing about my manner of talking, my `language'. She is, I imagine, also shocked silly that I am in a relationship with a guy. But not just a guy -- my Andrew. Mine and Joe's, because that's what Andrew wants. So do I. If Joe wants Andrew only, then Wayne backs away.

So here I am, writing, sometimes when I am not supposed to be writing. I have a fever and a kidney infection that has hung on since the 25th of October. I have commandeered Andrew's laptop and we have taken up residence in my bedroom (as of the time I wrote this, and later at Andrew's parent's home). So I'm mostly resting, but not inactive, because it would drive me nuts (short drive). Bear with the fever and my grammar thereof, please.

November 2nd - Tuesday

I wake up enough to find the cordless phone on the floor at my side. I hate a ringing phone when I want to sleep. But I know who's calling so I don't let it go to voicemail. It was after 3:00 p.m.

"Hey Doc."

"Hi friend. Ooh, I woke you up?"

"Yup, but that's okay. I was having a funky dream. You in town already?"

"Yeah, I just got to my office. Your bloodwork from last night, in a word, sucks. I brought a new antibiotic along and I'd like to deliver it."

"Come on up, man. I'm here."

"Okay. I'm leaving now."

Fifteen minutes later Doc knocks twice and comes in, knowing I'd left the door unlocked for him. He comes and sits on the couch as I fold my leg and tuck it under me.

"You're not wearing your leg again. Because you're home? Or?"

"It hurts too much."

"Did you take your temp. yet today?"

"Yeah, this morning. 102 again."

"Let me check it."

He put his thermometer in my ear and took a reading.

"102.6. Did you sleep last night?"

"A little -- 1:00 until after 4:30. Between Andrew and me puking up, there was little before or after."

"You got to sleep, friend. You're running yourself ragged. You're up by 6:00 a.m., running Andrew to the hospital by 6:30. You're working by 7:00 a.m. until noon, coming home, dialing in and working all afternoon. You're picking Andrew up and going to treatments, whether or not you have one. Then you take care of Andrew most of the night. You're going to bed at what, 2:00 every night? Don't you know how to rest?"

"Yeah. But the pain keeps me awake. So does the nausea. Don't you dare even tell me I'm spending too much time on Andrew. He needs me."

"He needs you healthy, not stressed to the max and running a fever. You're to stay home the rest of the week from work. That doesn't mean working from home. Let someone else bring Andrew home tonight and take him back to Joe in the morning. You sleep in after you see him off. I can come out and bring him to the hospital and home again after his chemo tomorrow."

"So you're trading me running my ass off for you running your ass off?"

"Maybe, but I'm not sick either."

"No on that one, man. Andrew's not doing his treatments alone."

"You know he's not alone."

"Andrew doing chemo without me there is alone. Nothing personal, Doc, but I won't give on that. He's having a hard enough time so don't ask him to sit alone."

"I'm not asking, I telling. You're to stay home and to stay in bed."

"No! The least I can do for Andrew is be by his side."

"I can do that too, dammit. Don't you think I care for him too?"

"Not the way I do, Doc. I owe Andrew."

"Maybe you owe him something. But right now you owe him your health more. In bed, resting, sleeping even."

"You talking to me? I sleep 3 hours when I'm wasted. Do you want me to sleep all day, too?"

"Absolutely. No chemo for you the rest of the week. You're too worn down."

"God, that scares me senseless. My counts are gonna rise more."

"We can handle the counts when your kidney is on the mend. For now, you can't tolerate the drugs and you need to let the antibiotics work. Speaking of which . . ."

He got up and went to the kitchen to get me some water. He sat down again and handed me the glass and the meds. I took my dose and lay back again, two pillows under my back and head. He sat there and looked at me, then looked outside at the clouds. The wind had picked up considerably since I got home around 1:30

"I'm really worried about you, Wayne. I don't like your kidney being in any distress at all. There's almost no chance at all you'd get another because the rejection odds are too great. We've got to keep this one going for you or you're not going to make it."

"I know."

"Then sleep. You really should be in bed, not just laying here."

"I already slept another hour this afternoon, before you called. It won't make any difference if I'm in my bedroom or here. I'm trying, maybe not hard enough, Doc, but I am. I don't want to risk my life for anything, except Andrew."

"I know. I'm not saying don't care for Andrew because you're the only one who does him any justice, with the exception of his folks. You're who he loves, and Joe, but until Joe awakens, you're Andrew's life. You don't need to be up at the crack of dawn to take him to Joe or to stay up at all hours."

"I have to stay up, because he pukes up and he can't get around the apartment on his own. You know me Doc. I'm not going to care about Andrew half way. I can put aside work for three days and not run him to Joe, but I got to be here when he needs me and I need to be with him during chemo. Other than that, everything else can fall by the wayside for a few days."

"Have you eaten today?"

I shook my head.

"When did you eat last?"

"Yesterday morning. Andrew and I had breakfast early."

"Nothing since? Is Andrew eating?"

"Margie makes him. I pack his lunch."

"But you won't eat."

I didn't say anything.

He didn't say anything either. He wanted to bawl me out but he wasn't going to do that. It was after 3:00 p.m. He did the math in his head and figured it'd been over 30 hours since I'd eaten. I counted 33 but I didn't tell him that. He went to my fridge. I heard him putting things on the counter.

"Doc, nothing heavy. I won't eat it!"

"I can give you a feeding tube if you'd rather."

It wasn't a question. He said it so I'd have no question about how serious he was. A few moments later, I heard him put something in the toaster. He broke eggs and I heard him turn on the gas burner.


He came out to the living room, a towel slung over his shoulder.

"Please Doc. I'm not hungry."

"Ask me if I care. I could call an ambulance and bring you to the hospital."

"Not against my will. I'll sign myself out."

"Don't push me, Wayne."

He went back to the kitchen. I heard him buttering whatever had come out of the toaster. I smelled scrambled eggs. He poured something into two glasses. He came around the corner with two glasses of OJ and put them on my coffee table. He went back into the kitchen, shut off the light, and came back with eggs and toast for me. He'd already put salt, pepper, and a little catsup on the eggs. He gave me the plate and a fork.

"Eat. All of it. That's only two eggs and two pieces of toast. You can manage."

I ate all of it. It didn't settle well in my stomach. Within the half hour, Doc was holding my head in the bathroom. I did not say `I told you so.' I went back to the sofa. He was helping me but I shrugged him off. Doc went back to the kitchen.

"Don't you dare!" I yelled to him.

He opened the fridge and poured something into a glass. He put water on to boil. He took a bowl from the cabinet, got cereal from the pantry, poured it, put milk on it and brought it to me, with another glass of OJ.

"I'm making some tea, too."

"I won't eat this," I said as I pushed it back to him.

"You will."

He looked at me. He handed me the bowl again. I took it, put it on the coffee table, and rolled over on my right side, away from him. He sat and watched me.

"So this is what more than 20 years of friendship is about?"

"You can't make me feel guilty. I've given 7 years of my life to this FUCKING disease. What more do you want?"

"Seven more."

"I can't promise you that. I'm tired, Doc. If you had cancer for seven years, if it took your kidney and your leg … what would you do?"

"What you are. Keep fighting my ass off. You were in remission for over two of those seven years you know. We can do it again."

"I'm tired, Doc."


"What do you want from me!!"

He took my hand. I wanted to pull away but he held on. He moved up and sat behind my back, on the edge of the sofa.

"My children love you. My wife thinks you are the kindest man on the planet. I have been your friend since college and I have grown to love you. All I want is for you to eat, to get stronger, to let me help you fight the cancer, and help you take care of your Andrew."

"Why are my counts on the rise again? I'm on the same chemo I was when they were going down. What's different?"

"Your infection. Your body can't fight both."

"Help me, Doc. I don't want to fight with you."

"It starts with you eating something."

Damn! If I ate, I puked. The food didn't stay in my body long enough to give me any nutrition. Doc would sit here all day if he had to, just to convince me to eat. I rolled on to my back and watched him.

"Wayne I care very much for you. I'm here right now because I'm your friend of 25 years. I'm not Doc right now. I'm Andy. I'm your long-time buddy who wants you to live. If you live, your Andrew will too, and so will Joe. The cycle starts with you. Listen to me."

His eyes were sincere. They were the eyes of my friend, not of my doctor.


Doc went to the kitchen and threw the soggy cereal down the garbage disposal. He poured another bowl and brought it to me. He sat and made sure I ate it all. He put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher when I was done.

"Come on, friend, I'm tucking you into bed."

Once in bed, he pushed my hair off my forehead.

"You don't know this because I never wanted you to, but I'm going to tell you something. When you were in the coma after your accident, I was by your side three days a week."


He held his hand up so he could talk.

"Claire was pregnant with Louisa. On Friday mornings, I left her in the care of her folks and I came to be with you until early Monday morning, every week. Your doctors had no faith you would survive. I knew all the ways, medically and physically, that you were broken and I knew why they thought that. But they had not been your friend of almost 12 years."

He sat beside me in bed, his back against the pillows and the wall. He took my hand and intertwined his fingers. He put our hands against his chest.

"Three days a week, Friday through Sunday, for almost eight months, this is what I did. It was as much for me as for you, something that Andrew understands, I'm sure. I could not fix your body, but I could hold fast to you and will you to live. And I could sit outside the operating suite when you had to have surgery so that you'd know someone who loved you was near. I was so scared that you would die in the night, or in surgery. I know what it's like to sleep only a few hours. I know what it's like to be a friend to you, and I know why Andrew means so much to you because you meant the same to me."

I looked at him. He looked back at me and held my glance.

"And now I'm so scared again, that you will die, this time because of your own doing. Please listen to me as your friend, Wayne. I do know what's best for you. And I am going to do everything I know how to help you. But you got to cooperate."

"Okay … Andy. Why didn't you tell me before?"

"You lived. That's all that mattered to me. I was a part of the reason, but you had to want to. Like Joe. Joe's not going to die, Wayne, not after hanging on this long. Believe that and make sure Andrew has no doubts."

I nodded.

"I got to get to my patients. And I need time in the lab to help you and Andrew. Stay put, and go to sleep. Please."

"Okay. I don't know how to thank you for being with me, back then."

"You already have, bud. You lived. That's all I ever wanted."

I nodded again. I rolled on to my left side as he got off the bed. He put the blanket and comforter up over my shoulders.

"I care for you, my friend. I'm not letting you give in. If you're tired, then you rest, just like everybody. I'm here for the duration. When you need me, you call me. Okay."

"Yeah. Thanks Doc. You're a good friend."

"Sleep, bud. When Andrew comes home tonight, hold him close and let him sleep too."

Doc left quietly and locked the door on his way out. I slept for a couple hours, wrote one quick E-mail, and slept another three. I sent another E-mail to my group and slept a bit more.

Then I got into chat. At 11:40 p.m., I was frustrated and closed it down, rudely. I sent a short mail, barely remembering anything I had said or was told to me in the chat. My fever spoke for me, out of senseless pity. I pissed off several of the people I had counted on for friendship. At the moment, I didn't care. What I had said was what I felt and I was not going to ask forgiveness for telling what I knew, even with the fever speaking for me. It would not be the last time I pissed anyone off.

November 3rd - Wednesday

Doc arrived at lunchtime with sandwiches from home and two half-gallons of cranberry juice. He sat with me at the coffee table in the living room. I told him once again I wanted to be with Andrew for his chemo session later.

"No way, Wayne. You're running a 103 temp. What good are you going to do Andrew?"

"I can hold his hand and talk to him."

"So can I."

"Not like me."

"What, you hold the market on caring about Andrew?"

"No, but I love Andrew. You can't, not the way I do."

"You have to rest. I've got an admissions order with me and I'll use it if I have to on you. Andrew's a big boy now Wayne, he can take care of himself."

"NO! I said I'm going with him! Damn you I mean it!! And I don't give a fuck for your admission order. Shove it up your ass!"

"Don't yell at me. You risk a lot by doing that."

"What, you won't take care of me any more? Fuck you then, I'll find another doctor."

"Fine! Here are the fucking yellow pages! But you won't find anyone who cares for you like I do."

He threw the phone book at me. I caught it and threw it against the wall.

"Don't screw with me. You push me and you lose me as a patient and as a friend. And you lose Andrew too."

"You won't do that, Wayne. You know for any other doctor to start at ground zero is going to hurt you both very badly. I got the research project and I know you two inside and out."

"Any doctor worth his salt could pick up our cases and not skip a beat. I'll protect my buddy, Doc. You don't care about him the way I do."

"What then, I have to be queer in order to take care of Andrew? Is that what you want from me?!"

"No you bastard! Don't you know this isn't about sex? I love Andrew. I don't have to fuck him to show him I love him!"

I sobbed, holding my pillow against my chest. He didn't understand me at all.

"Why are you holding on so tightly to him then?"

"Because he's gonna die and I want him to know that I'm here for him, no matter what else happens. I'M here for him so he's not afraid. You can't take it away from him because you're not fucking sick! I understand Andrew because I fucking feel what HE feels!!"

He stood up and went over to the slider. He opened it a bit, even though the air was cold. He ran his fingers through his hair and then wrapped his arms around himself. He looked out, ignoring me. He knew he was right. And I knew I was. I started to say something but I felt the nausea coming on again.

"Doc, bathroom! Hurry!"

We didn't make it. I threw up in the hallway. He picked me up and carried me the rest of the way to the bathroom. I threw up some more, screaming because it hurt my chest so much.

"Hold me, damn you! My rib!"


"Fuck!! Wrap your arms around my chest . . ." and I puked more, the stabbing sensation poking my chest.

Doc finally realized what I meant. He got behind me, wrapped his two arms tightly around my chest, and lay on my back. I threw up for another five minutes. When he knew I was done, he took me to my room.

"Stay there, Wayne. I gotta clean up the carpet."

He grabbed a broom and dust pan, along with the trash. After that, he got a bucket and hot water, a brush, and carpet stain remover. He scrubbed for a few minutes. He emptied the bucket and put everything away. He sprayed the whole area with Lysol when he was done. Then he came back and sat beside me. He picked me up and held me in his arms.

"I'm sorry, I forgot about your rib."

"Andrew does it by instinct now. He knows. He doesn't even have to think about it. See Doc, that's what I mean. Andrew knows exactly what I need without asking. I know what he needs, without asking. That comes from love, not just from friendship. It comes from caring so much it makes you hurt."

Tears welled up again in my eyes, stinging my cheeks.

"Then I'll learn."

"Andrew's gonna think I don't care. I can't take that," I said as I cried in his arms.

"Andrew knows you care, bud. He knows you love him very deeply. I know Andrew loves you just as much. Do you really think I'll let him or you down? Please trust me to take care of him. Please."

"I can't Doc. I love him and I don't want him doing chemo without me. We do it together because we know how much it hurts. You won't feel what he does."

"Then I'll ask him and he'll tell me, Wayne. I need to know what Andrew needs so I can help you too. The only way I'll know is by trying."

"Doc, please . . ."

"Sleep, my friend. Look how exhausted you are. Sleep. I'm not leaving here until I have to go pick Andrew up. And I'll bring him home again. You gotta sleep. Do you want some meds?"

"I can't take anything. I'll puke it up."

"I can give you an injection if you want."

"No. Just hold me, Doc. See why it helps me and Andrew get through this. Just hold me."

He did. For over three hours, he held me against his chest and rocked me to sleep. He pushed the hair off my forehead and held me. I fell asleep, giving up on trying to fight it.

Doc left very quietly after putting an afghan over me. I slept. When I woke, I sat at my PC for a few minutes and sent mail. I was thinking about what Doc said. If I showed up at the hospital tonight to be with Andrew, then I had better bring an overnight bag.

I got up and went to my bedroom. I put a pair of jeans, clean socks and a sweatshirt in my duffle. I put toothpaste and my deodorant in there. I tucked the latest Patricia Cornwell novel, ¾ read, into the pocket. I put the duffle on the floor in the living room. Then I went to throw up some more.

I crawled onto the sofa and went back to sleep, too sick and too wasted to follow through with being defiant.

Doc brought Andrew home after his chemo. He came in carrying his overnight bag, one that he always kept packed and in his car. I looked at the clock on the VCR. It was 8:45 p.m. I made room on the sofa and Andrew lay in front of me. I put my arms around him. My Andrew smelled of Ralph Lauren's "Polo Sport" cologne. I had nothing on today except my Zest soap smell, but I like Estee Laudee "Pleasures".

"I missed you today, my love."

I looked at Doc as I hugged Andrew. Doc sat on the floor in front of the sofa. I wondered if it was going to be too much for him to see me hug Andrew so close.

"I missed you today, too, Andrew. I'm glad you're home. You doing okay?"

"I am now. I'm staying home with you tomorrow. Okay?"

He turned his head and I kissed him softly. He put his head down and held my hand. I looked at Doc as if to say "Now do you know?"

Doc looked back at me, then at Andrew, then back at me. He nodded. I think he just became quite humbled.

"I said some pretty awful things to you this afternoon, Wayne. I'm sorry."

"Did you mean them at the time?"


"Then don't apologize. If you say what you believe, never apologize to anyone. I told you what I meant, too, and I won't apologize because I will hold on to my Andrew for as long as I can. You got it?"

"I do."

"After 25 years, I figured you'd know what I was about."

"Not entirely. I guess I'm still learning. Teach me, friend. I don't ever want to fight like that again."

"You guys had a fight?" asked Andrew.

"Yes. And a terribly ugly one at that, Andrew" said Doc.

"Wayne loves me Doc."

"I know. I know how much, too."

"And he means the world to me, Doc. He's the only reason I'm letting you do what you are to me. He's the only reason I came back after the week away with my parents."


"If you think it's because of Joe, or my folks, you're wrong. It's for Wayne. You love Claire, Doc. Wouldn't you do something just for her, even give your life for her? Or for your children?"

"Yeah Andrew. I would."

"Then you know how I feel for my Wayne. I love my Joe, very much, but until I'm better, and Wayne is better, I can't give myself to Joe the way he needs. It takes too much of my energy. All I can do is be with him and sometimes it's not enough."

"Andrew, you are very special to your friend here. You must know Joe loves you. I said something really nasty this afternoon, something unforgivable. The only fight we had worse was over 18 months ago. I thought for sure Wayne would walk away from me forever then."

"Tell me," said Andrew.

Doc looked at me. "Go ahead, Wayne."

"After I lost my first remission in '95, the cancer progressed on me, despite any chemo we could do. Doc must have changed my protocol a dozen times to even slow the cancer down. You remember when I broke my leg in December '96?"

"Yeah. You said you were skiing."

"I wasn't skiing, Andrew. I fell down the stairs at my apartment. I was bringing groceries in. I fell and my leg snapped like a stick."

"Jeez, Wayne. Why did you feel you couldn't tell Joe or me? And I still wonder why you couldn't tell us you had cancer."

"I was scared Andrew, because I knew why it broke so easily. I just didn't want to think about it is all. When I was at work, I wanted to work. It was, and still is, a distraction to me. You understand that now I know. And at home? I didn't want you thinking about me when you and Joe should be thinking about each other. So, a neighbor took me to the ER. Doc was away that weekend so even he didn't know until Monday when I called him."

"So 18 months ago . . .?"

"I had a series of falls. My leg wouldn't support me. I fell once in the stairwell at work too, remember? A friend of ours caught me by the collar of my shirt so I wouldn't fall completely.

There were other times too. My leg hurt so badly and it wouldn't support my weight. I finally had to call Doc and let him do the tests he wanted. It was the last thing I wanted, because I felt I was giving in."

"Stubborn man!" said Andrew.

"Wayne? Stubborn? Yeah, right." Doc laughed.

"Takes one to know one, Andrew my love. And Doc's not all that less stubborn than we are. I've seen him with the flu and studying still at all hours of the night."

"Well, yeah . . ." he said sheepishly.

"So I let Doc do the CT scans and bone scans and X-rays and poke me with needles to his heart's content. I hated every test because there was no denying the tumor in my leg. It started underneath my knee cap and spread upward into my thigh and hip. Then it hit my kidney and lower lung. We stopped it there, but not until we did something I wanted no part of."

"You had to have the surgery."

"Yeah. Oh man did we fight though. I yelled until my throat was raw. So did Doc. He wouldn't give in. After another series of falling or losing my balance, I had to listen."

"The second time you broke your leg … was that from a fall again?"

"Yeah. Same thing; down the stairs in my building. It was also the last straw. And the day that Doc and I had the fight to end all fights."

Doc looked at me. The things we had said were terrible. The fact that he's still here, now sitting in my living room, was a miracle. He wouldn't forget that day, ever, any more than I would. He knew though what happened with his other patients. He knew the progression of it, because of our friendship.

"Wayne, bathroom."

Doc got up immediately and took Andrew. He picked him up and carried him, running very quickly, to the bathroom. He yelled back for me to stay put. I did. I had to turn my trust over to Doc. I heard Andrew retching. Doc guessed that there would be a washcloth in my linen closet. I heard him open the door and go back to the bathroom. He ran cold water and put the washcloth on Andrew's neck, like he has done to me in the past. Ten minutes later, Doc walked Andrew back out and helped him get back on the sofa. He was so pale. This was Doc's first time with a patient who was not a friend, or at least a friend like Doc and me. He went to the kitchen to make some tea.

We continued our discussion with three cups of tea.

"What was it like to know you had to do the surgery?"

"I was more angry than afraid. I had arguments all day in my head. Doc and I continued to have fights."

"Fights isn't the right word," said Doc.

"Okay, discussions."

"Nope. Way too tame. Andrew, your friend gave me a black eye."

"Are you serious?"

"Oh yeah. He's got one hell of a temper when he'll let it out."

"Andrew has never seen my temper, Doc. Basically, I had a temper for that moment, and it was gone after that. Life's too short."

"But he really punched you?"

"Yeah," said Doc. "He punched me square in my eye. I don't think he intended to, not that way."

"No, I didn't. But I did it in anger and I couldn't stop it. Andrew calls being so down `being stalked by an Anxiety Monster.' My Anxiety Monster was as big as the Empire State Building. I had no control. I was awake for 4 nights straight until I crashed. After that, I just gave in. I didn't care what was going to happen. All I wanted was for it to be over."

"And you had no one to sit and wait for you, love, because you wouldn't let any of us," said Andrew.

"No. I had no desire to let anyone from work know what was up. I've seen people in the workplace when someone is sick. I need, very badly, that distraction that comes from being at work and concentrating. I couldn't, and still can't, think about cancer 24 hours a day. It's too much. I need to know there is life out there, something for me to hold on to that's `normal'.

And when I was going to tell you, Joe ended up nearly being killed. To tell you then would be selfish. You needed to think about Joe. I would have been an unwelcome distraction, friendship or not."

"But you should have told someone, bud. I can't imagine doing what you did alone. But I guess you did eventually tell someone, since you went home to Maine for awhile. I'm glad you had Kate's mum to take care of you for awhile. I have to say, truthfully, that I feel pity when I think about you going through surgery like that alone and trying so hard to adjust. Your nights must have been dread-filled."

"I talked to Doc."

"Barely. Don't lie to Andrew, Wayne. You shut out everyone around you, especially me, because I was the one who had been a part of your surgery."

"But I talked to you, Doc. I talked to you more than I did anyone else."

"That scares me because you hardly said two words to me for a month."

"I know, but I didn't . . ."

"Bathroom!" yelled Andrew as he started to get off the sofa.

Doc once again lifted Andrew in his arms and ran as if the Devil was chasing them. His reaction time is outstanding. They made it but not by a whole lot. Andrew heaved mightily. It was amazing how we could throw up repeatedly after the first time, because one would think that our stomachs would be completely empty by the time the first bout finished. I have the cracked rib to prove that you can throw up nothing and hurt yourself badly, though the rib had been broken completely once before.

It was a 20 minute session that left Andrew limp as a dish rag. Doc had cleaned him up and put him in bed at Andrew's request. Andrew said that his head ached. Doc said the onset was while Andrew was throwing up. He could feel Andrew's body lurch as Andrew grabbed for his head.

"I can't separate patient from friend, Wayne. This is what you do three or four nights a week, for you and for Andrew both?"


"My God. And here I preach about you getting sleep. You can't possibly."

"It's not impossible. Sleep comes in short bursts, but it's more like rest, not real sleep. The real stuff comes Sunday night, finally when both of us are beyond the chemo side effects, but it starts again on Monday. Andrew gets it six days a week. I get three or four."

"And, by the way, if you're going to help Andrew, you better think about getting some yourself. It's not over yet."

"But surely his stomach is empty."

"Trust me."

"Oh lord. At least let me wash up."

"Take a shower, Doc, a good hot one. It'll do you a world of good. I can take care of Andrew if he needs."

I grabbed a fresh set of towels for Doc and showed him to my bathroom, in the master bedroom suite. Either one of the bathrooms was close from my bedroom, so I could get Andrew to either okay. I told Doc to take his time. When he came out, he found me cleaning Andrew up in the hallway bathroom.

"But I've been away only 10 minutes!"

"I guess you won't preach to me any more about sleep, huh?"

"No, not if this is a typical night."

"It is."

"I'm sorry Andrew. I didn't realize you'd be so sick so often. I wish I could do more."

"You're away from your family, Doc, staying here so Wayne can rest. You can't do more. This is more than I'd ever ask you to do. By the way, thanks for being here tonight. I wish it was going to be okay, but it's not. Not yet anyway."

"Don't worry Andrew. I came to help out, no matter what you need."

It was a hellish night on Doc. Andrew threw up three more times over the course of two hours. I had orders to stay put in bed. Doc wasn't a stranger, but him helping Andrew make it through the night made me antsy. It was hard on Andrew but it was harder on Doc. He didn't get anything like he bargained for. I doubted he'd ask again to come and help us.

After the last time Doc brought Andrew to bed, he went to the spare bedroom. I got up and went in to talk to him for awhile. He was under the sheets, his hands behind his head, the bedside lamp still on. He put the pillows against the wall and sat up.

"It's hard, isn't it?" I asked him.

"I never imagined."

"From the first night of chemo for Andrew, Doc. It's been no different."

"You must be drained constantly."

"Not really. I'm getting used to it. For Andrew I would do anything. You know that Doc. I love Andrew so much, so this is nothing for me. But now you know why I'm running a fever and have a kidney infection. There truly is no rest for the weary."

"Wayne my friend, I see how you hold your Andrew. It's no different than how I hold Claire, and probably how you held Katie. Andrew feels you, bud, even when he's sleeping. Don't you ever doubt that again, because I see how you care for him. You are an amazing man when it comes to love."

"Andrew taught me."

"More than Katie?"

"Yes. Because he opened my heart again, when I had closed it off."

"Go and hold him."

"Goodnight Doc. Sleep well my friend. "

I closed my eyes, but they saw stuff from my recent past. The voices were as clear as if Doc and I were yelling at each other today. I held my Andrew.

"You have no choice, Wayne."

"I have one other choice."

"You have none."

"I do!"

"If you think so, you'll die!"

"Maybe it's better."

"That's no choice."

"You're offering nothing else!"

"I'm offering you a chance to live."

"By mutilating my body?"

"By removing the cancer!"

"NO! You're not touching me and I won't sign your damned paper!"

"You're not the only one to do this you know."

"I'm not like anyone else. Don't compare me to anyone because I don't like it!"

"I could learn to hate you."

"Hate me then. You think I don't hate you already?"

"No, Wayne. Not with 23 years of friendship behind us."

"I loathe you. You can't help me except by removing the problem. I can tolerate the chemo. Increase it! Put me back on radiation!"

"It won't work!"

"Says you!"

"Says your bone marrow results from the past two months. 130,000. 195,000. 250,000. More chemo and a long series of radiation. 400,000. This week it's over 900,000. You're dying Wayne and I can't stop it any other way."

"You have no right!"

"I'm a doctor. I have every right!"

"Not with my life you don't!"

Doc was standing no more than six inches from my face. We fought at the top of our lungs.

"Your life isn't worth a plugged nickel!"

"It's worth more than yours!"

"For how long?"

"Long enough to have the life I fucking want!"

"No! You're wrong! You got no life beyond a few weeks, Wayne. None! You're sorry ass is dead!"

I sucker punched him, squarely in the eye.

"Fuck you! You can't play God with my life. I won't stand for it!"

He stumbled back and covered his face, waiting for me to punch him again. I could have. I didn't feel sorry that I did. I walked out, my head aching from the anger and the hatred.

Doc came to my apartment. Two hours had passed. I got up, let him in, and went back into my bedroom. He came in and found me curled up on my side. He sat down beside me. He reached out and held my hand. I pulled away but he took it back and held on.

"You won't live, Wayne. It'll eat you alive. Can't you see I'm trying to be your friend here, not just your doctor?"

"My friend wouldn't tell me what you are."

"What do you want me to do?"

"Anything. But not this, Doc. Please. I'm a skier. I used to be a runner, but I lost that. Please don't make me lose something else to that bastard. Katie, my baby, my kidney, part of my lung . . . three years, almost, in the hospital, broken, and then a cancer to eat me whole. I can't take giving him one more thing, Doc. I can't."

My voice cracked and I couldn't take any more. Tears welled up and rolled down my cheeks. I didn't even try to wipe them away. They were tears of anger, much more than tears of fear. I've already paid and the drunken young man wanted to take more than I could freely give.

"You have to, bud, or you won't live. Your leg for your life; isn't that a better deal than dying and letting him kill you?"

I didn't answer. He lay on the bed behind me and held me as I cried harder than I ever have in my life. He turned me around to face him and held me for dear life. I had to give in and I didn't want to, not to the bastard who had fucked me raw and came back for more. But Doc was a friend of 23 years and saying yes to him would give me more years to stay his friend. If I really said no, then my life was over. I knew that long before Doc told me. The pain in my leg, increasing as the weeks went on, told me that I was not done yet.

Andrew was up twice more. Doc ran to help him, telling me to stay put. I felt useless. How can I rest, or sleep, with Andrew so sick? It wasn't any better for Doc to run himself to exhaustion either. I had done this for a few months. I was used to it. Doc had not done this before, not like this.

He brought Andrew back to bed at 6:30. Andrew fell asleep right away, curling himself up in my arms, his face against my chest. I held my buddy close to me. I wanted him to feel me even when he slept. I wanted him to know, no matter what ever happened, that he could count on me and reach out to me and, even in the darkness of his blindness, find me. I kissed his forehead and then his eyes and then his cheeks. I held his hand, intertwined with my fingers.


"This is so hard, Wayne. I knew it was going to be a few trips to the bathroom, but throwing up for 10 and 15 minutes at a time? All night long? My God, what am I doing to Andrew?"

"You're giving him time, Doc. It'll get better eventually. It has with me."

Doc sat on the floor, his back up against the dresser. He looked at Andrew. He looked at me. He didn't know what to say to me. I lay and watched him.

"Now you know why I don't sleep, Doc. This is what love is all about to me. It's not a chore any more to me. It's done to get Andrew through the night. Do you see that?"

He stared blankly at me. I did not remind him that this was the routine several nights a week. One night of this had left him numbed. One week of this would be like hell on earth. Doctors should know what they are doing to their patients. One doctor now does. Maybe it'll make his research better.

November 6th/7th - Saturday/Sunday

"Wayne, can I be in you?"

"Yes love."

Andrew entered me in one move. It felt so good to have him inside me. I raised my leg and he held on to it as he slid inside my ass. I touched his face. He smiled.

"Feels nice, bud."

"Yeah, Andrew, it feels great. You're so good to me."

"Because I love you. We don't have to do this for me to know that, but I like this too."

"So do I. I love you too, so much, Andrew."

I looked down at watched Andrew's cock enter me. He pulled out to the head and slid it back inside me. He got a steady rhythm going that touched me and made me tingle every time he got all the way inside. I held him as he held me, making love to me.

In a few more minutes, he started to come. He felt slick as he continued to fuck me, spilling his load deep inside me. He lay on top of me and kissed me until we fell asleep.

( note: my mom is helping me write this, lefty/righty-style. i want to write this, instead of wayne writing it later.)

i don't know what time it was. i woke up because something felt wrong to me. i was sweating. my chest was wet. nothing else was though. my forehead was dry and comfortable. my hair was not wet. my face was fine. i touched wayne. oh god he was so hot.

"wayne? come on my love, are you okay?"

he didn't answer. but he was breathing because i could hear him. he had a pulse in his neck, though not very strong.

i got out of bed and made my way to the living room. his pc and phone were to the right. how was i going to call anyone?

i had to picture the phone in my head. was the top row 1-2-3 or 7-8-9, like on a keyboard? i felt the buttons, feeling where all 12 were. i started at the top row on the right and went down three rows. i hope that was a 9 that i hit. i went back to the top row and to the far left. i wanted it to be 1 and 1 again. my heart beat so fast. i felt greater anxiety at this moment about being blind. how could i ...

"911. what's your emergency?"

"i need an ambulance. my buddy is running a high fever. i can't wake him up fully."

"do you know what's causing the fever?"

"kidney infection."

she read our address displayed on her monitor and asked me if that's where i was calling from. i didn't want to panic. she would think i was a crank call.

"yes. now can you come?"

"hold the line."

she was gone for a minute. she came back on the line.

"where will you be when the ambulance arrives?"

"at the front door to the apartment. please hurry."

"they're on their way. are you okay?"

"yeah. please hurry."

there were eight buttons near the top of the phone, on two rows. wayne had programmed them for one-button calling. doc's was one of them. i had seen the display enough times to remember. i pressed the fourth button on the top row.


"claire? it's andrew. please wake doc. i'm sorry."

"hold on andrew."

i heard her rousing doc.

"andrew? what's up?"

"wayne's fever is worse doc. i called 911. can you meet us at the hospital?"

"i'm on my way. it'll take about an hour, but i'll be coming. tell the er doc, okay?"


i went back to the bedroom and put wayne's gym shorts on him. I pulled my jeans on and zipped them. i couldn't seem to make the button work. i kept at it. i mostly put a t-shirt on. i put on my sneakers but i couldn't tie the laces. i don't remember where my sling was. i couldn't take the time to find it. i got my jacket because it was only 30 degrees outside.

the ambulance crew arrived a few minutes later. they knew their job well and had us at the hospital in less than 10 minutes. the er staff knew wayne and me. they took good care of him while waiting for doc to arrive. i sat and waited alone. it was probably an hour later when i felt a hand on my shoulder.

"i'm here, andrew. i'll be back to see you in a little while, okay?"

"take care of my buddy, doc."

"i will. sit tight."

i had been in this chair three and a half months ago, for the same reason. it felt like i was stepping back in time. the sounds were all the same. the smells were just as sterile and cold. i closed my eyes, as if it mattered, and thought about making love to my buddy a few hours ago. i had wanted him to wake me this morning and do the same to me. i wanted my friend to be in me, too, like he let me be in him.

doc came back out. i don't know how long he'd been gone. time meant very little to me. it could have been 10 minutes or an hour for all i knew. i had taken off my jacket.

"andrew let me help you with your t-shirt."

doc's touch was firm but gentle when i could feel it. he took my hand and arm and put it through the sleeve. if i hadn't seen him doing it, i wouldn't know that he was.

"do you want to call your folks?"

"what time is it doc?"

"4:00 a.m."

"no, not now. i'll wait until 6:00 when they get up."

"i'm making arrangements to take wayne with me, andrew. i need him in d.c. where i can take care of him better."

"i know, doc. just make him well. i don't care where you do it."

"are you okay here?"

"yeah. i want to sleep awhile."

he helped me lay on the chairs, three together. he put my jacket under my head. i fell alseep awhile later, thinking about my wayne.

my nurse friend came out to see me before she left for the day. it was about 6:15 she said. i asked her if she could help me call my parents. she stood beside me, dialed the phone, and then gave it to me.

"mom, can you and pop come? . . ."

mom called her substitute teacher to fill in for the day. pop took the day off. they arrived by 7:30. wayne was gone by now, on his way to washington with doc.

at our place, they helped me pack some clothes. wayne had done this only two months ago, when i decided to stay home with my folks the week of my birthday. i figured i'd need a few days worth anyway. wayne wouldn't be home anytime soon if i knew doc.

"should we bring wayno's prosthesis?" pop asked.

"i dunno. yeah, i guess. doc will give him crutches when he can get around again anyway."

it's now evening, twelve hours later. i lay on my side on the sofa, my head in my mom's lap. pop sat at the other end, my feet in his lap. i was quiet as i thought about joe. we had called margie and asked that she and the crew look after our joe for a few days. i was angry at being blind still. if i had my sight, i could still be home, even by myself. i could have stayed on my own anyway, but i would have to fend for myself. if i stayed home, i could go and see joe still each day. but showering each day, dressing myself, trying to eat, and getting a ride to and from the hospital each day would take more energy than i wanted to give it. joe would understand, again, that i needed to give my energy to my wayne.

we listened to music cds. pop and mom liked some of what wayne and i liked. pop had enya in his cd changer. a tear rolled down my face. my head started to ache, the pain hot and deep. i closed my eyes and willed myself to sleep.

i woke awhile later, long enough to let pop tuck the covers around me. he had carried me upstairs. mom gave me a kiss on my forehead. pop did the same. it was probably 11:30 or midnight. i slept more, pushing the pain out of my head, leaving room for my joe and my wayne.

November 8th to 16th

i was in the house that i had grown up in. my pop bought the house in 1960, four years before i was born. it's been remodeled twice in that time. i sat for awhile on the front step. i couldn't see, with my eyes, but i could see with my mind. in front of me, as far as you could see on a clear day, stretched the river valley. in the spring and fall, fog covered it like a soft blanket. the fall color was about past by now, but i could picture trees of reds, yellows, and oranges, like fire. winter would bring a covering of snow. spring and summer would bring lush greenery. joe and i made love in the woods. so did wayne and i. not just sex; holding and touching, kissing softly, sometimes more but not necessarily; in the sun, in the rain, under the moon and stars, in the snow ... sharing what was familiar from my youth, letting it become familiar to my two guys.

the driveway to our house is 3/4 mile long, off a back-country road. we sat on 20 acres that bordered thousands more owned by the state. the only sounds i could hear were squirrels and birds. my apartment was 15 minutes from here, also a country hideaway. i was sitting on the brick front steps. the air got too cool, so i went inside. during the second remodeling, mom and dad, with the help of a contractor friend, opened up the spaces. i could almost hear kevin and me running down the stairs. even back then they were hardwood. to my right was dad's office at the front of the house, and a sunroom with a wrap-around deck outside two sets of french doors. above the sunroom was a cathedral ceiling with a large skylight. to the left of the sunroom was an open family room, another set of french doors opening out onto the deck that continued past, a large stone fireplace dividing the family room from the sunroom. continuing to the left was my favorite set of rooms in the house; the kitchen and dining room. by most standards they were huge. they too were open. behind the kitchen was a half bath and the laundry room, with a door leading out to the garage. below the main level was the garage and a finished basement. above the main level were four large bedrooms and two full baths. kevin and i had our own rooms, the bathroom in the center between the two. mom and dad's room had the second bath. a loft area overlooked the sunroom below. there was very little about the house that was formal. it was a home, not a house, but also not a showplace to impress people. living space occupied about 6,000 square feet. it was large because it was old.

kevin and i had laughed and played here, best of buddies in addition to being brothers. i was the big brother, 4 years older, trying to watch out over him. kevin lived here and died here, in his own bed with pop laying beside him, mom and me sitting at the foot of his bed. if i listen, which i do, i still here his giggles and laughter. joe and wayne and i had made better friendship here, in the love of my family. i had two brothers, instead of being 'an only'. there was a 12 year gap from the time kevin died until i met joe and brought him here for the first time. it was three more years before i met wayne, and brought him here as well, adding him to the family. i couldn't cry from my memories, because they were solid and good, filled with the love of my brother by blood, my parents, and my brothers by heart.

mom and pop were working today. it was my first day without wayne. he was in washington, two and a half hours away. i walked through each room of the house without stumbling around. i knew the house like the back of my hand. i sat in each room for long minutes and listened. i knew the sound of each room, the smells, the color schemes, the carpeting or the hardwood floors, the tiled baths, kevins room, my room, my folks, the loft, the sunroom and living room, pop's office, and then the kitchen. i wandered throughout the basement, outside, up the steps to the deck, around to the side and in through the doors back to the kitchen. i sat here. this was my favorite place because we talked here.

i made myself a ham and swiss sandwich, getting a plate out of the cabinet, a knife from the drawer, and stuff from the fridge. i sat at the island counter, in the middle of the kitchen. i listened to celine dion music on my dad's cd player. it was turned up a little louder than usual, but i was alone in the house and i could hear from only my left ear. pop loaded the cds this morning, asking me what i would listen to during the day. i don't know what time it was. i thought about my wayne and my joe, both too far from me. i was not bored to be home alone, because this was home. but i missed my two buddies.

mom sat down beside me on the sofa when pop and me got home that evening from my chemo. i lay down and put my head in her lap and dozed off until i had to be sick. when the sick time ended, my pop tucked me into my bed.

the week passed one slow day at a time. i continued my chemotherapy routine, with pop's help. wayne's fever lasted from october 25th until november 10th. wayne and i talked briefly each day. doc said that if the fever stayed away, wayne would go home with doc and his family on friday, the 12th. from there, he could come home to me again on sunday. he was terribly restless. me too. wayne's fever is gone, but his kidney infection lingers.

mom and i talked to wayne again on thursday, the 11th. he cried. all i did was tell my buddy that i missed him. we had been apart four days by now. mom held me when i hung up the phone. i didn't cry. i didn't want to. mom said it broke her heart to hear her son cry. wayne was her boy too. mom and i held on, thinking about how good it would be when wayne came home again.

friday came, but wayne remained in the hospital instead of being home with doc's family. he had spiked a fever of 104 overnight, between thursday night and friday morning. doc worked yet again to get rid of it, but wayne would remain in washington until sunday. doc would then try again to get wayne home. in the meantime, pop took care of me as i got sick from my three days worth of chemo. i slept against the pain of my second headache of the week. the first one, from sunday night, had lasted two days. i was already into my second day of this one and it hung on.

on saturday, the pain of the headache combined with missing my wayne got to me. mom and i had been writing e-mail to a friend and i started to cry. i couldn't stop. pop took me outside and walked with me for over an hour, holding on, reassuring me, telling me to have faith in doc and in wayne. i trusted doc. and i loved wayne. i could do as pop asked.

later in the evening, doc told us that wayne was going home with him on sunday, regardless of the fever. i didn't know if he was saying that to make me feel better. if he was, and wayne didn't go with him tomorrow, i would be pissed at doc. but doc wouldn't play games. i knew that if i really thought about it. we talked again during the evening. he said wayne's fever was level enough, at 101, that he could do better away from the hospital.

doc followed through. on sunday afternoon, wayne called to let us know he was half way home. doc says he could stay unless the fever spiked again or he showed signs of hurting too badly. either one would be enough to get him re-admitted to the hospital. if i knew my wayne, he would rather tell doc to kiss his butt than to go back to the hospital. doc would overrule him anyway. so all we could do was hope.

on monday morning came news of the loss of our young friend. mom was reading mail to me each day, and we were answering some together. she read that one to herself first. she didn't want to read it to me. she stood, pulled me to my feet, and wrapped her arms around me.


"my boy. your young friend died this morning, 4:00 a.m. his time. we should call wayne."

i cried for a few moments. mom held on tight. i thought about it. mom held me in her arms. i wanted to tell wayne the same way.

"not yet. he still has to concentrate on getting home. he can't think about this yet."

"but he has to know, andrew."

"yeah i know. he'll be home on wednesday. i'll hold on to him, and tell him then."

i didn't think of much else during the afternoon. i had chemo to do. pop came home early from work and drove me to the city. and then he held my head all night.

November 17th -- Wednesday

hoping works, at times. wayne did come home on wednesday. i was sleeping on the sofa when doc brought him in. doc didn't stay long, not wanting to disturb me. wayne sat on the floor for a few minutes and went through the pile of mail that pop and i had picked up from the post office. our mail at home was on hold since we didn't know yet when we'd be home at wayne's again. he pulled out a couple dozen get well cards and started to read them. then he got online to send mail to our friends. mom and i had got mail on my account read, so there was no new messages. wayne decided against reading anything older, and also against getting on his own e-mail account, knowing there was 10 days and probably 1000 messages waiting for him, some from technical newsletter subscriptions, some from friends all over the country (and a few internationally), and some from work.

he was sitting on the floor beside me when i woke up.

"hi my love. welcome home. what took you so long?" i teased.

"well i decided to have an affair, but i couldn't keep it to myself." he teased back.

"as long as you tell me, it's okay."

"i love you andrew. you know that right?"

"i dunno, bud. can you prove that?"

he lay beside me on the sofa and wrapped his arms around me so tight. he kissed my forehead. i closed my eyes and he kissed each eyelid. wayne was a man of habit, and of great passion. he kissed each cheek, then kissed me warmly and softly on my lips. i kissed him back, holding him as best i could, having missed him so badly.

"i have news for you, bud. our young friend is gone."

"oh andrew. today, love?"

"no. monday morning very early."

"oh my god! i just sent mail and mentioned the guys. our friends are going to think i'm insane. jesus. i gotta send another message."

he got up and flew to the den. he was on crutches because he had gone to the hospital without his leg. i pictured him running about 90 miles an hour despite the way he had to get around. i could hear him typing like the wind. but wayne had not known the news. i had made a decision not to tell him because he needed to concentrate on getting home. our friends knew that wayne did not know. i don't think any one of them would find fault with him.

he came back in awhile. he had read the mail from our friends. his face was wet when he lay beside me again.

"andrew i'm so sorry. i'm glad you weren't alone when you heard the news."

"mom read the mail to herself, and then she held me, bud. she told me the same way i just told you. i wanted it to be this way. i couldn't tell you sooner, not with you so far away and needing to think about you."

"i've made a fool out of myself, love. they'll all think i've lost my mind."

"no bud. they knew you didn't know. everyone who answered me back agreeded that you shouldn't know right away. don't worry about it."

he sat on the floor beside the sofa. i couldn't see, but i knew he was crying. i felt around until i found his hand. i held it to my chest. i tried to pull him to me but he couldn't move. i got off the sofa and sat beside him. if he couldn't come up to me, i could go down to him and hold on to him. it hit him as fresh as it had hit the rest of us on monday.

our inner circle of friends pulled together and let each other know that no one suffers through the death of a friend alone. we had plans of our own to celebrate our buddy's life. the next couple days showed more of what the inner circle wished to do. the memory is a good one for us. it will become better too, in time.

Andrew, Mom, and Pop took a walk around in the afternoon on Tuesday, following the news of our young friend's loss. The folks had taken the day off to be with Andrew. He still struggled about whether or not to call me and tell me the news, but in the end, he knew he wanted to be holding on to me while he told me, and not over the phone. Mom would tell me on Wednesday night of Andrew writing a poem for our friend, concentrating so hard he didn't hear Mom speaking to him. She said it was a thing of beauty, to see a young man who is blind, trying very hard to put his thoughts on a piece of paper, using his left hand to write because his right side was still paralyzed. Andrew was a determined boy. He was a right-handed boy forced to work around it, because he was doing something out of love that was too important to leave alone for now, until he could be helped. Mom added two lines of her own. Pop added three lines of his own. Andrew made each paragraph four lines. It was a thing of beauty, truly.

Note: we were going to leave this out. Our previewers have asked to see it. With persmission from the brother and buddy of our young friend:

Mom saw Joshua today in the sun
Mom saw Joshua today, out on the run
Mom saw Joshua today in the song of the birds
Mom saw Joshua today, in all of our words.

Pop heard Joshua today in his mind
Pop heard Joshua today, his words warm and kind
Pop heard Joshua today on the breeze
Pop heard Joshua today, watching the leaves

I felt Joshua today in my heart
I felt Joshua today so we're not apart
I felt Joshua today in my tears
I felt Joshua today, and will many years

November 18th - Thursday

Andrew and I slept in a bit on Thursday morning. My meds got me down a little. His own, against his headaches from hell, let him sleep. We needed to help each other around the kitchen. I handed him things that needed to be carried from the fridge to the counter or from the cupboards to the counter. I had crutches to get around on, not able to put my leg on for the pain.

We made two different kinds of quiches for dinner, using anything we could find in the fridge to put into them. Then we made a salad to go with it. We also called a local bakery to order Mom a Boston Crème Pie, here most favorite cake. She arrived home from school after 4:00. We were out, on purpose at that hour, picking up the dessert. We sneaked into the house and then quite blatantly put the box on the counter. When she came downstairs, she was surprised at the dinner being all ready, and at us letting her off the hook. Her two sons were handy in the kitchen, handicapped or not. She gave us both hugs and sweet kisses. Gotta love Mom.

But we teased her with the cake. It was in a box, sealed, so she could not peek. We made hot tea and sat at the dining room table. She kept looking over at the counter, curious. Andrew helped me go and bring the box to the table, where I then held it close to me so she couldn't get to it. She said I was a terrible tease. I told her I learned from the best and then kissed my boy on his cheek.

November 19th - Friday

Today is a day of tests at the hospital, starting at 10:00 a.m. I was awake at 3:15 a.m., having gone to bed with Andrew at midnight. He continued to sleep fine against the headache. I held on to him as long as I could, but my restlessness got to me. I didn't want Andrew to feel it, so I got out of bed. He needed to sleep. I could sleep nor rest any longer. I was sending mail again by 5:20 and again at 5:35.

Throughout the morning, Doc did a biopsy on my kidney, did blood work, x-rays, and looked over the extreme tenderness of my leg. He said it was swollen a little. I had been two weeks without chemotherapy. He would do a bone marrow aspiration later in the day. Andrew was at my side throughout the day. We walked around the hospital grounds between the morning set of tests and the afternoon set. I had some pretty high anxiety about my bone marrow count. My tests would go to Washington, to a high-tech lab that was not yet duplicated anywhere else in the country. He could accurately tell the condition of my bone marrow, counting out healthy tissues from the malformed and immature cancer cells. My counts the previous week had been 40,000 times higher than normal, so we expected these to be about double or even triple that, up to about 150,000 times the normal. We would begin the chemo battle again on Monday.

For a while anyway, the battles were put aside. We had a friend to honor. He was being giving a Viking ceremony at sunset in California. At 4:30 p.m. today, as our own sun began to set in the west, over the valley, Mom, Pop, Andrew and I stood at the dining room table. There were three white candles in a brass holder. The first, the tallest, was for our young friend, in respect of his life, because he gave us light, happiness, and lessons to carry on. The second, a bit shorter, was for our friends in the circle who also mourned our young friend's passing. The third, a bit shorter yet, was for our Joe, a soft but steady light to find his way home by.

Andrew and I lit our young friend's candle. Mom and Pop lit the friendship candle, because they had seen what it's like to share friendship, even across thousands of miles and many time zones. Andrew alone lit the candle for his Joe. The candles were going to burn for 24 hours. We figured they would last for 10. Before going to bed tonight, I would take the dying light from each, and light new ones. Tomorrow during the day, someone would do the same, and then gently blow them out at sunset on Saturday. Mom thought about putting a candle for Joe in the window, and lighting it each week to burn from sunset to sunrise. Andrew liked the idea very much. So it shall be.

Doc called me Friday night on Andrew's cell phone.


"Wayne. Hi my friend. You doing okay?"

"You tell me, Doc. Any results back yet?

"Yeah. Everything is what we expected, or within reason, except …"


"Your bone marrow Wayne. We haven't seen counts like this since we had to take your leg."

"Oh god, Doc. What are they?"

"You're over 600,000. But . . ."

I didn't' hear anything after the `but'. All I heard was that my counts were so fucking high. I did the math in my head. They were about 15 times higher than the last counts, not just the 2 or even 3 times we expected.

"Wayne? Come on friend. Are you there?"

"Yeah. Later Doc. Bye."

I sat there for a few minutes, numb to the bone, suddenly very cold. I sent E-mail to a very small group of friends. I decided I couldn't tell Andrew or the folks yet. This was too much, after the type of week that they had. I didn't feel all that right telling my friends, but to tell no one would have made me nuts.

Andrew is going to be so upset. Mail came back later from a couple in the group that I had told. They said I should tell Andrew because not trusting him would hurt him. I thought about it as I held my sleeping love in my arms It was now after 2:00 in the morning. There were very few lights lit in the house because we had three candles sitting on the dining room table to pay respects to our lost friend. I would need to light new ones soon from the last dying flames of the originals. I sat awhile longer. The light in the den was off as well but it was like daylight because of the near full moon in the sky. I sat and stared out, wondering if it was clear enough elsewhere in the country, if our friends had seen it yet, if they were out there connected to us. I didn't know. No one else had mentioned the moon in his or her mail yet.

Around 3:00 a.m., I sent mail to a larger group of friends, copying in my message from my mail of a few hours ago. I went to the dining room and lit the next three candles from the flames of the original -- for our buddy, for our friends, and for our Joe.

To be continued ...