Last breakfast with Jerry

Nov 08_Sunday   Cabo

I was at the end of my energy rope (the bitter end that is) when Jerry showed up in his role of savior. He’s been a skilled First Mate during all our sailing together, in spite of my barking orders and occasional unwarranted judgments about his methodology.   But he is doing on land what he has consistently done at sea, covering my back — this time quietly noticing how exhausted I am.  He has concocted a plan that we skip out on RD and share a room for one extravagant night at the nearby Solmar Hotel.   It was easy to agree to hot showers, swimming in each of the two swimming pools, prepared dinner with margaritas, and a good night’s sleep on a bed that didn’t roll and creak.   No need to question expenses; we just deserved it. Besides I was desperate to do my laundry.  More importantly it was a way to cap our friendship, and it was a wise decision for my personal emotional and energy recovery.  (Parenthetically  I looked like an anachronism sitting in the hotel’s Laundromat writing on my laptop doing my own laundry surrounded by all the pampering going on around me).

That evening was the final Ha Ha party.  We dressed and walked to the Awards Presentation. We laughed, participated, and received our third place award in the Wavos Rancheros division, and we never lost our sense that we may never meet again nor our gratitude for being among the privileged.  And then much-needed sleep found me.

The next morning we enjoyed our final meal together while being pampered with hovering waiters and a free breakfast.   As Jerry departed for Denver I again  recognized this feeling of “we may never meet again”.  Why? Jerry is dealing with a cancer of the pancreas. His prognosis is unknown, and he faces surgery on Nov 16.  Definitive information about his fate will reveal itself then.

Oh God, I don’t want to lose a sailing partner  who has become my brother through good character and noble actions — backed with a philosophy that “I look at things from Jupiter.”  Western medicine has almost succeeded in the illusion that death is an option.  Not so.

Frequent reminders of my declining sight, hearing, physical endurance and mental acuity remind me of my own mortality and keep me on notice that the end is just over the horizon.   But unlike Jerry I’m blessed with no notices that death is urgently near. Such a mysterious process — how the Universe is organized to evolve and replenish itself.  But whether I unexpectedly fall over dead tomorrow or whether Jerry is on a short path to death by cancer, we share the common bond of mortality. Our stories differ but we both feel the hot breath of the grim reaper at our necks.

For hundreds of years the custom or tolling of the town’s church bell has signaled the finality of someone.  John Donne wrote one of his most famous lines, and sums it up for me:

Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.






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