A while back, I wrote a piece about the book of Jonah and mentioned a man I knew whose 28-year-old son was dying of cancer. For those unfamiliar:
I saw Jim last week in the courtyard of the gym. (The last I had heard, several weeks ago, was that Zach had been released from the hospital and was living at home, under the care of his family and a full-time nurse.) I said hello, and he asked what I had been doing. I said I had published my book that week.
“That’s what I’m starting to do for Zach. Put together a book about his life and everything he went through.”
I didn’t like the way that sounded. “Is he still home?” I asked.
He looked at me funny. Tears welled in his eyes. “Zach passed away on April 4. I thought you knew.”
I put my arms around him. “I didn’t know.”
“Michael, you wouldn’t have recognized him at the end. His hair was bleached completely white. He had to use a walker just to move around. He could hardly take a step. It was no way to live. One night, I heard him crying out, ‘Dad…Dad.’ I went into his bedroom and he had vomited two quarts of blood. He was hemorrhaging.
“Angiosarcoma. Look it up. It’s the worst (expletive) cancer you can get. It destroyed his platelets until his body could no longer make red blood cells. It’s so damn unfair.
“I’ve been going through all the emotions. I get bitter and pissed off. Why him? Why not me instead? Zach never did anything to hurt anybody. I’ve got a client—a meth addict. Fifty-two-years-old. Every month, he goes to visit his dad and his dad gives him a check. This guy doesn’t have any teeth left. And his dad’s just (expletive) enabling him. He’s one of UCLA’s biggest benefactors. I want to kill him. This guy’s worth a hundred million dollars and thinks he can fix his son with money. It’s so (expletive) unfair.”
He shook his head and turned away. That would be the end of our conversation, I knew. He needed to stop the tears before he went inside. One more thing he said before walking away.
“Zach doesn’t have cancer anymore.”
“No, he doesn’t,” I said firmly.
If you can seize life, do it. If you can grab hold of love, grab it. And never let it go. Because you never know.