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Dharma Beatdown: Funeral for a friend

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Funeral for a friend

There's a grand old tradition in my house of titling blogs with song lyrics or song titles... see the Autarch page for several instances, or my old myspace blog. "Ride My Face To Chicago" indeed. In this case it's hyper-literal again, though.

I've been sorely needing to write another blog, and have been avoiding it because a good friend of mind died recently and that is what I wanted to write about. Unfortunately, there are five stages of grief in this town and they are all anger.

Tim fought cancer for four years and succumbed with full knowledge that there was nothing he could do about it. He had a wife and two kids, about a million friends, an extended family, and more church hangers-on than you could beat with a stick before your arm got tired.

Not to eulogize him- I don't think he requires that, but for a dedicated Christian, he had unknowingly achieved a mental state at the end of his life that rivals that of accomplished meditators. He had done a great thing, going to that place as he died, and I told him so. Tim left everyone with a good taste in their mouth on his way. How many of us will be able to say that?

I met Tim when my ex and I were attending the young couples' group at a local megachurch. We hit it off pretty quickly- I'm discovering that that's how he was, just friendly, but we discovered we had a lot in common. Bass players, involved in IT, married young, dissatisfied with our lives, though ultimately he chose to reconcile himself to his situation and was happy with it. He was that kind of guy. After I outed myself as an atheist Tim and I played in the worship band. Heck, we pretty much were the worship band. Wrap your cognitive dissonance around that one.

Once my marriage exploded and my ex decided to destroy me, the community of people who were supposedly compassionate and moral dropped me like I was hot. The people who stuck by me I could count on one hand. There was Tim and... well, Tim. He remained my friend even though it wasn't fashionable anymore. Even the pastors who claimed to want to help now ignore. Honestly, it's what I expected from the people who pimp the most bloody, perverted bestselling work of fiction of all time but I try to be open-minded and expect the best from people. I really do.

So in the wake of that disappointment, here's the real rub. The person from that group who I really wanted to keep hanging out with, to build my friendship with- I can't. I won't let myself. Why? His wife and my soon-to-be ex are friends. And he's dying. Why does that matter to me? Because as I have discussed in this blog and others, I try to be a truly moral person. My moral decisions are my own, and they are intended for the weal of this world, in general. So I am not going to bring my drama onto the doorstep of a dying man, no matter how much I may feel like I'm being cheated of a most awesome friendship. So I made that decision and kept in touch by email.

It was no surprise when Tim passed the other day, and he had been planning all aspects of it for a while. The funeral itself was awkward, and it felt like I was attending some sort of mafia funeral where the rivals had betrayed me or something. The service seemed cheap- Jesus this, Jesus that, which to me detracts from the true glory that was Tim's life and maybe the even greater glory that was the way in which he chose to die over a period of four years. There was a reception afterwards, and I suppose I should have stayed, but I really felt like I was going to get icepicked in the back of the head, so I made like a tree and got the fuck out.

One last thing- Tim's uncle got up and talked about some 'Tim stories,' involving Tim's bizarre sense of humor. He asked who out there had their own 'Tim story', and I was surprised to see that in a huge church pretty much full of people, there weren't that many people with their hands up. But I was one of them. So here's mine, to honor the memory of Tim:

Tim (about 2 years into having cancer at this point) and Beth had a bunch of the couples from the church group over to their house for dinner and hanging out. All the various kids were upstairs playing legos and PS2 and whatnot. The adults were in the living room, having awkward conversation in the manner of Christian 20-somethings who don't know how to enjoy themselves. Tim brings out his parakeet, which is molting or disintegrating or something, and puts it on his shoulder. Each time the parakeet ruffles its feathers, a huge cloud of parrot dust billows out. The sunlight from the window is catching it, and no one is saying anything. I decide to.

"Holy crap, Tim. Don't breathe that stuff... it'll give you the cancer." He gives me an exaggerated deer in the headlights look. Then his wife shrieks at me.


Tim just cracks up...


Since we're on the subject, yesterday was the five year anniversary of my mom beating cancer, so I'd just like to say I'm grateful for that shit. "WOo-hah!" as Bustah Rhymes would say.


Anonymous ha said...

: (

September 21, 2008 at 8:37 AM  

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