Last night we received some news that left our hearts in pieces, our souls ragged and frayed. Our dear friend Marc called us and told us that Dennis (his partner and love who has inoperable lung cancer) was showing no improvement from chemo and that his tumor was impinging on both his aorta and bronchial passage. The doctors are already starting radiation, but give him a 10% chance of surviving.
Ten percent, a slight chance but a chance, a small hope but reason to hope, but we are human and cannot help but despair as well. Marc and Den have been in our lives for twenty years. Over that time, friendship grew to realms of closeness and intimacy that are impossible to describe. When they laughed we laughed, when they smiled we smiled, we shared each others highs and lows and middle ground.
This is not a love letter to Dennis or to Marc, it is to them both. They are my definition of the sum of the parts being greater than the whole. In and of their individual selves, they are role models, men of giving natures and social conscience, but together the strength of one complements the other’s weakness, they complete each other. Their love and belief in each other is not only shared between them, but with everyone around them. Not long after first meeting them, they were the couple that best defined caring, giving, and unconditional love for me.
I first noticed our closeness with them when we went through a stretch of not being able to be with them socially for more than 2 or 3 times in a year, and yet when we got together there was no awkwardness or formality; we met as if we had last seen each other yesterday. This elevated to the point where when we had good news we wanted to share it with them, when we were doing something they were first on our list to invite.
We embraced them, and they embraced not only us, but our children as well. They have developed distinct and deep relationships with each of them. Marc and Den are so dearly held by us all that they are Godparents to our grandson (and more attentive and loving Godparents no one could ask for).
Our lives have become entwined with theirs. We have taken vacations together; celebrated holidays together, all but lived together. We could feel no closer to anyone than we do to Marc and Den.
The years we have known each other have brought many changes in our lives, some good, and some bad, the same as for everyone. The years have also separated us by more than half a continent but still no more than a heart beat away. They live in Charleston, SC, and we still live in Colorado Springs. We miss them greatly and see each other whenever we can.
Now the gulf of miles is keenly felt, our need to be with them in love and support palpable. We call, we talk, we cry but touching the phone is no replacement for holding a hand, hearing there words over a speaker is no replacement for seeing their faces, saying to them we love you through the ether is no replacement for a physical hug. The desire to hold them, love them, and protect them is primal within us; they are extensions of our soul.
When we talked to Marc last night, just as he told Jean-Marie the news, the sky wept for Dennis, opening up at that moment to yield a three hour torrent. It seemed the earth was just as angry at what Marc and Den were going through as she pelted down hale in fits and burst of rage over the injustice of the fates to the kindest of souls. We echo and surpass nature’s sadness and pain. We ourselves rail against the cruelty of this disease that it dare touch our friends that it dare try to part them that it dare assault the fiber of a relationship which we greedily covet in our lives.
We hope (oh how we hope!), we pray in a seemingly continuous litany of Rosary and thoughts, we send love in waves that crash and roll in their intensity to them, and my wife and I cry and hold onto each other fearing that this is what the end of the world feels like. Marc and Den, we love you. Three simple words that carry such incredible strength and meaning, but in this instance falls woefully short of being a complete expression. We send our love and prayers, we hold out hope, we support each decision you must make, and we love you as unconditionally as you love each other.