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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Love (04/27/06)

TITLE: Love Swinging Blindly, Madly, Insanely, Without Reason, Without Purpose
By David Ian


“I’ve got cancer. They pulled ten pounds of it out of my leg. I could live, I could die, I could lose a leg. Those are about the options.”
There’s no telling what love can do to us. Or for us.
That’s one of its allures: its unpredictability even in the face of certainties. The uncertainty lies in that one can never be sure what one will say -- or do -- when one acts from love; the certainty is that what one says and does, is a product of that love, however surprising it may be.
Case in point.
This bombshell dropped out of nowhere from my best friend, whom I love very, very dearly. It appeared to be an entirely innocent looking e-mail until I opened it, and then it exploded with its devastation.

I was no stranger to this malady.

It claimed my mother, whom I loved immeasurably, and my world changed forever.
It then claimed my father, whom I relied upon for stability more than I ever dreamed, and my life felt abandoned eternally.
It then ravaged my wife, who survives to this day, and my definitions of “living” and “loving” changed irrevocably.

All through these events, my best friend, though separated by distance, was an invaluable rock for me to lean upon. So it was to my ultimate shame that upon receiving the news of his plight, I was paralyzed. I couldn’t answer. I had no answer. I had nothing to offer.

Then came the second message, and then a third. Each confirming a reality I was desperately trying to deny. To my wife’s eternal credit, she returned each message with a response. For the first one, affirming that survival happens, and she is proof of that, so take hope; for the second one, offering some information that the doctors never tell you, but that is essential to know; and for the third message, that the tunnel is very long, very dark, but rest assured we are traveling it with him.

And still no answer from me, his best friend.

He had stood by me through three of these similar crises and all I had to offer in his hour of need was silence? It was Shame that finally prompted me to send a message, but it was Love that wrote the words.

“I have no words of comfort that I can offer you during this time, only this:
This is your fight, you’re in the ring this time, you’re getting punched and battered and beaten and bruised by an opponent bent upon devouring you utterly. There may be friends and family close by that are in your corner, to give you a breather when they can, to pour some water over your head or to wipe up your wounds in between rounds to keep you going. I’m not there.

“There may be others who are ringside, cheering you on, shouting for you with voices you can hear. I’m not there, either. There may be others who are removed some distance apart watching, as it were, on some macabre broadcast, and giving you support as best they can from their far away vantage. Certainly, I am not there, either.

“No, Tom, you won’t find me in any of these places, but instead I am there in the ring with you, swinging blindly, madly, insanely, without reason, without purpose. It’s your fight, not mine, but I cannot contain myself to merely sit and watch. I am compelled to yell and spit and scratch and scrap and scream -- for if even for a single moment your fiendish opponent should turn in my direction and take his malevolent eyes off from you, then perhaps there is some sense to it. But it is not the making of sense that is the purpose.

“It is all I can do to helplessly try and take your place in this tragedy, which is what my heart screams to do with an irresistible voice I do not try to ignore. If the world were mine to command, Tom, our places would be switched in a heartbeat, make no mistaking that. But even supplication to the One In Charge alone is still too passive for what love demands in action.

“I’m in the ring with you, Tom. For the duration. For whatever that’s worth.”

It was gratifying to hear back from him that this was exactly what he needed to hear.
Love could stand for nothing less.

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This article has been read 1220 times
Member Comments
Member Date
darlene hight05/04/06
Crying! Awww...David, I too am heart broken that Tom is going through this again and he is in my prayers.
Claudette Wood05/05/06
Oh, my goodness! David, I cannot believe the emotions this stirred up in me. I shouldn't have read this at work. I'm glad you found your voice to your friend. I'm glad you shared it with us. I'm praying for your friend and for his family. Wow!
Sherry Wendling05/05/06
How to comment on a piece that leaves me unglued? I don't know you or your friend Tom, but a year ago Easter I lost one of my own dearest friends to this. The greatest grief for her husband was the friends who didn't want to deal with his grief. Your incredibly powerful, dramatic expression shreds all pretenses and leaves nothing but the raw, quivering reality of selfless love. So many need to read this. I pray you will be moved to journal through this walk of faith, and to publish the results. I also pray to the One with Whose stripes we are healed. Bless you!
Sandra Petersen 05/05/06
I knew who wrote this because I prayed for you and your best friend, Tom. And if it helps, there are others who have not known what to say to a best friend who has cancer and may or may not live but found a way like you have to show their love.

I lost a friend to cancer, a complete shutdown of her liver, and, knowing she was dying, wheeled her out to the outdoor smoking area when she wanted. You do what you can, brother, you do what you can. I think this article is a start.
Alexandra Wilkin05/06/06
Raw hurt, honestly conveyed, powerfully written. I dont know if I have any words to convey how much this has moved me. But I keep Tom and you all in my prayers, knowing that God is that ring with Tom, with you for the duration, and beyond. God bless.
Helen Paynter05/08/06
very powerful writing - because it came from your guts. (also becasue you're a very good writer!)
Amy Michelle Wiley 05/08/06
This made me cry. I've been there in the ring, both for myself and for those I love. Thank you for this entry.
Pat Guy 05/08/06
I prayed for him too. Like I did for your wife. But I prayed for you, so you could find, what you needed to find, for both of them. For what they needed to find in you - through God.

I think you made a lot more sense than I do!

Great stuff in writing David!
Debbie OConnor05/08/06
I'm praying for Tom and Cindy too. Your searing honesty brought your desperate love for your friend through loud and clear. I'm glad it helped Tom.
Jan Ackerson 05/08/06
I agree with all of the above comments: this is powerfully tender (how's that for an oxymoron?) And I love the title, too.
Debbie Sickler05/08/06

You've given so many of us such wonderful critiques in the past. Can I at least attempt to return the favor, knowing how personal this particular entry is?

First of all, it is obviously a wonderful display of your brotherly love for your friend. However, I found the formatting in the beginning a little difficult to read. Having a new line for each sentence made it seem like a cross between prose and poetry and it read much smoother when you reverted to the usual format midway through.

Your words were awesome and your love came through clearly with each of them. I hope that you do find a way to publish this so others can share in your story.

(Perfect title too by the way.)
Joanne Malley05/08/06
I remember praying for your friend a while back. He's blessed to have a friend like you. Warm, tender and a beautiful display of friendship and love. You're both in my thoughts and prayers. Jo
T. F. Chezum05/09/06
I can't add to what's already been said. Good job.
Lynda Lee Schab 05/09/06
David - what an awesome friend you are! I'm sure Tom is thankful to have you in the ring with him. Smack that disease around - it has no right to be in the ring at all! Praying for both of your boxing gloves to be in tip-top shape for this one.
Hugs, Lynda
Melanie Kerr 05/09/06
That is love in its essence. It is not easy.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz05/09/06
WOW! I can hardly type this as I fight the tears. I very rarely have the emotions stirred that this touched. Thank you for such an amazing message. (I really can't stop crying.)This one is the best I've ever read.
Garnet Miller 05/09/06
Sometimes it's hard to know how to be there for a friend or loved one going through a difficult situation. No matter what we do or say, it never seems to be enough. We always wish that we could do more. But, there are times when those in need just need to hear that we are there for them no matter what happens next. A friendly voice is exactly what the doctor ordered. Great article.
Rita Garcia05/09/06
A masterpiece! Perfectly written from beginning to end. A winning entry.
Praying for Tom!
Maxx .05/10/06
No doubt a ten+ on the emotional richter scale. It packed a wallop, carried a great depth of passion and love. You'll score well in that catagory. Good job. I felt the writing was a touch weak in places, though, some alliteration and adverb use. Minor speedbumps, however, since this really carried the day with its selfless profession of love.