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When the brain tumor came to town

Dear Rocky,

You know, Rocky, your note comes at the right moment. I just now received another reminder of how important little things are. A note. A phone call. A thought.

My good friend and brother, Andre Jefferson, has gone to the hospital and won’t return home again. He found he had brain cancer about this time last year, went under the knife at the time, and never got back what was his before. I went to Atlanta to see him in January. We had a really wonderful time, even if he was still on the mend and having problems with sight, walking, strength, etc.

We were lucky to have another year.

That visit showed me something I have not yet gotten good at. I need to make the call, send the postcard, or write the letter. So much of our lives, and the regrets we have when someone is gone has to do with those things. Of course, I can bemoan someday that I didn’t do this, or I did that and it screwed so and so. These are important. But they are important for me living, not for them dying.

I suppose I’m still a selfish bastard. I don’t want people to die because they won’t be there when I make that call. They won’t be coming by anymore. In Andre’s case, we won’t be having a bi-yearly jaunt into the countryside. He won’t be there when I go back to visit his parents and my other friends.

We are so close, Andre and I. We weren’t together always. Over the last 26 years, we have been together perhaps less than one percent of the time. But that was normal for an international friendship. Our moments, however, were, well, brotherly. His mom once described our friendship as one of soul mates. We met each other in 1985 and within just a few minutes, it was as if we had always known one another. He’s the only person who has ever made me question my idea that life is once, and sacred because of that. Andre made it seem as if we had met each other in a previous or future existence.

I have to process this stuff. I get news like this and I suddenly feel tired, like I’ve just had a long, hard day. And, really, this one is just beginning. We have had a hard time sleeping around here lately. Julie’s night schedule and my day one slipping together to keep both of us awake when we should be sleeping. I’ve gave my book over to the U of NE Press editor and have to get working on dissertation. (I’m going to show those fuckers yet.) Logan is just getting home. Grocery shopping. Etc. Then, maybe a couple of hours on the dissertation tonight after 7 or 8. We’ll see.

Sometimes it’s good to have things out of your hands.

I love you dearly, Rocky. Don’t regret a damn thing when it comes to me. You’ve pulled my ass from the fire a few times. I still owe you.

Above all, thanks for being my friend.

Patrick

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