July 22, 2003

For a while now, one of my friends has been suffering with cancer. I got word this morning that he died.

It was last Wednesday that I felt the urge to call Jan to see how he was doing. The last time I had talked with him had been three weeks earlier. He was getting ready to go to California to stay with his aunt and attend a clinic run by an herbalist. The doctor had told Jan that herbs could do 30% of it for him, but the rest was up to him. About two weeks ago, they did a CAT scan and saw that the cancer had gotten to Jan's brain. After that he went down hill quickly. He died on the day I called. That was a week ago. I just found out from his wife today. She was getting a service ready in Maryland.

A lot of things have gone through my mind.

I met Jan in the seventies in a 10th grade Spanish class (which gives you an idea that I'm not 15 any more). It turned out that we were of like minds, having the same wit and the same twisted humor. He tended to get along with more people than I did because he had such a good nature.

There was a group of about seven or eight of us that hung around together. We weren't jocks, yet we weren't completely nerds. We were somewhere in the middle, yet to the lower end. We loved science fiction, and a fun night out was roller skating.

Some of us stayed together while we went off to college (at least the local community college). Sometime during that period, Jan taught me how to drive a stick shift. I did well enough that he let me drive his baby (a 1961 Chevy Biscayne) back to the school from the housing development he had taken me to practice in.

As time went on, we drifted apart, and came back together a few times. He was there at our wedding with his first wife. When we started attending science fiction conventions, he came along. Shirley made him a Star Trek Next Gen uniform that he loved. He took part in a few of our costume routines in the costume competitions, and was Shirley's first singing partner for Filk as they performed as FreeFall. ( For more about the costuming we've done, visit our costume site at... Shirley's Costumes or for information on Filk, visit our Filk site at... FreeFall FilkBook .)

At most Star Trek conventions, they have a dance and party late on Saturday nights called 10-Forward. Probably the most memorable costume Jan wore was of his own design. He put on a white tuxedo with a red cumber bund, added pointed ears, and the (red outside / black inside) cape from one of my costumes. We later gave him a copy of the picture we took and labeled it 'Saturday Night Trekker' (Jan).

Since we moved to Florida, we lost track of most people as only a couple bothered to keep in contact with us. We talked with Jan on the phone now and then, or online, and saw him a few times. There was a long period where we hadn't heard from him at all. I'd see him online, and IM him, but get no response. I also didn't get any response from e-mails I'd send.

Finally one day, I took a chance when I saw him online and tried one last IM. It was there that he told me he had cancer. I moved our conversation to the phone almost immediately. He and his with Martha had been to a movie when he started getting sick. (This is a man who had never been sick a day in his life. He actually had over a year of sick leave accumulated at his job with the state.) They went home, but ended up going to the emergency room. The next thing Jan knew was when he woke up and had been given a colostomy. The doctor informed him that he had cancer and that the survival rate after two years was only 5%. The first thing he did was to not tell anyone (including his parents) until six months had passed. This was about the same time he told me. I don't know who gave him hell more, his Mom or me.

He went through the standard medical treatments including chemotherapy. These, of course, did nothing but slow it down a little. He started looking into various alternate treatments including those that had many survivors. He really had his hopes pinned on this one from Canada. Unfortunately, it didn't work. (In my mind, I think he went to it too close to the time he stopped chemo. Chemo kills everything in your system. I feel that what was left of the chemo stopped the other stuff from working.) He had a good attitude until that time. If he had this attitude when he went to California, he might have beaten it.

I last saw him the first week in May. That is when he had his first (and only) Reiki treatment. I had been trying to get him to see people, and find someone in his area, but he wasn't sure about faith healing. He and I came through the same time period when the only ones preaching about God were the 'newly reborn', and if you didn't believe as they did, you were going to hell. (This is why I have such a problem with religious fanatics that actually hurt people by trying to push them to a single belief.) It was then that we both lost sight of what God was, and what he/she/it meant. I was lucky as I was able to find a belief eventually. Jan still wasn't sure.

Had I still been in Maryland, I would have been working on him weekly or daily. He thoroughly enjoyed his Reiki treatment, but only went through it because he trusted me. Finding someone else was something he couldn't get to.

Each time I talked with Jan I tried to bolster his spirits. I kept telling him how he could beat his illness. I think I probably annoyed him with it the last time I talked with him. He was very weakened, and could barely get up off the couch. I put a constant line of energy running into him. I figured it would either help him move around, or pass over. It was shortly after that, that he went to California.

Jan was literally the only person that stayed with me out of high school. As I think about him, I remember the good times and the bad. I remember the fun, the surprise birthday parties, the costuming, the singing and song writing. I remember the periods where his marriage had ended, and he was as low as he could be. He brought a lot of happiness to our lives, and I can only hope that we brightened his up some.

I feel he made it over all right. And one day I'll see him again, either through a visit or when I finish my time here.

To my friend, I'll miss you. One day, we'll be together again, in love and light.