Wednesday, 5 January 2011

confessions of a cancer patient

I've always loved confessional writing. From the very first time I read Sylvia Plath whilst in the scalding throes of puberty, to my current obsession with Joe Orton's diaries and Jonathan Ames' 2009 show "Bored to Death"... I've always found truth more interesting than fiction. Maybe it's a generational thing, maybe it's because my parents were so tight-lipped about their own lives and I needed something honest to relate to. I'm not quite sure. All I know is... I like reading about people's problems.

My guess is you do too.

I've been thinking a lot about Devon lately. He came to visit me here by the beach around this time last year. I played him some Velvet Underground, my go-to crowd pleaser, and surprisingly, it was all new to him. I was glad he liked it. [side note: Muse is playing on Pandora as I type this, which was his favorite band. I take this as an omen that it's permissible to write further...]

Devon is dead now. There's nothing entirely significant about this fact-- he battled Ewing's Sarcoma on and off from ages 19 to 28, his health slowly declined as treatment options ran out, and he died. We related to each other in ways that no one else possibly could, forming our own secret cancer club. We were both realists with a dark sense of humor, prone to depression, suffering immeasurably due to one stupid translocated chromosome. Here's looking at you, 22.

Devon was a bitingly truthful writer with an ascorbic wit, authoring essays that sucked the reader into his own personal hell of illness and the oft bitter loneliness that goes along with it. Not the most pleasurable Sunday reading, but important, I think, to the collective experience of humanity. Devon SUFFERED with a capital S-- more that I can even imagine. He removed his writing from Planet Cancer sometime before his death, so it is impossible for me to re-read his thoughts, mind, soul. You see, Devon was very protective of his personal revelations, and told me he didn't think most people deserved to read them.

He did something that I find absolutely terrifying- he left without leaving anything. Except, I guess, an impression on me. His confessions are lost to us. I regret not encouraging him more towards his end of life. I was not as compassionate as I should have been.

My point? Talented insightful people die for no reason all of the time. I repeat: NO REASON. You've got to create your own reason to live. And you've got to live as if everything you care about is dying. Because it will, eventually.

I never even took a picture with Devon, just this ugly grey seascape that we both shared for a small moment.

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so... that was my confession for today.

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