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Another blank page, another opportunity to show how bright I am. How clever, how deep, regardless of public opinion and some hard circumstantial evidence to the contrary. How loaded that whole idea is, a writer writes because when the words flow, when the sentences run together without effort, it’s liberating. Watching the paper fill is like a surfer watching the tide come in; you can’t control the tides you just try to surf the cuts, stay on your board as long as you can, and learn to roll with the waves.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, upcoming birthdays have a tendency to do that, a natural cause and effect of getting older I suppose. I’ve always been the face forward type, not much time for the rear view mirror. Do the best you can and keep moving, and here I am dead in my tracks. Stuck still and pondering life and death like a full tilt philosopher without regard or consideration for the consequences.

It was easier not thinking, not pausing long enough to get the full impact of time, not noticing that times picking up speed, running downhill, and carrying me along with it. Doesn’t help matters when I read a blog written by a co-workers wife, a lunchroom buddy has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Cancer is one scary proposition, and with less than a 10% shot at five years, pancreatic cancer is particularly nasty. Makes you think about the things that you can control, what went wrong, and how to avoid that like the plague it is.

Tim was a healthy 48 year old man, happily married, financially secure, everything that most middle class men aspire to in their lives; all except that terminal cancer bit, that’s just something he picked up recently. Planning a big vacation with his wife, and while ramping up for the trip he noticed that his urine was darker than usual. Strange. Maybe he needed to drink more water, flush his kidneys more often and sure enough after a few days all is right as rain again.

A few days later he had an odd rash, itchy skin, nothing too bad, just a little patch of dry skin. Everyone gets dry skin in the northwest, its part and parcel of living here especially this time of year. A little dab of Gold Bond ointment and back in business, off on vacation for the time of his life but just to be safe he made an appointment with the family doctor upon his return.

A few hours, some blood tests and an exam later and my friend Tim has an appointment with a surgeon first thing the next morning. Pancreatic cancer is nearly always fatal, almost completely undetectable until it spreads to the lymph system which is the open freeway to the point of no return.

Ten days later Tim awakens to the news that he’s been in a drug induced coma with no memory of the interval. Thank god for modern medicine and living right. His kidneys and liver failed during surgery and his doctors induced a coma to save his life. What Tim needed most was time; time to give his body a chance to restart the filtering system, with a little dialysis thrown in for good measure and maintenance. After nearly a month with the medical professionals and some serious prayer, Tim’s finally healthy enough to go home.

Big catholic families are good for several things and prayer is top of the list. Tim has some professionals of that profession in his corner too. I hope that whatever time you get will be filled with all the joy you can squeeze out of it. Good luck my friend.

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