“It ain’t hard to look behind you an’ see mistakes.” – Larry McMurtry (American writer & Pulitzer Prize winner (from his novel Horseman, Pass By)
Another day passes and although it shows the signs of being a day just like the one before; it is not. Everything has changed and will forever be changed.
I woke up this morning and made a cup of coffee, walked some laps outside on the track and brought it back inside to read the paper. My new daily routine involves setting aside one to two ours per day, in the morning, to read the Wall Street Journal. It is part of my “education” for lack of better terms, and I look forward to it eagerly with every day.
Today seemed to be the same but I was wrong. Today had something completely else in store.
I have a bunkmate named Billy. He sleeps on the lower rack and I sleep on the upper rack. He is what we often refer to here as “good people.” He works in the machine shop here in the prison and is known as one of the nicest guys on the yard. He is 49 years old and he has been here about 5 years, he only has about 6 months left. I’ve been bunkies with him now for about 6th months myself and I couldn’t ask for a better guy to live with, and since he has a son and daughter about my same age, we often joke around and I call him dad and he calls me “son”. He actually just found out a few weeks ago that his first grandchild was recently born, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone more proud. I can go on and on but the point I’m trying to make is that Billy is a good solid guy, and just an all around good fellow. So with that being said I’ll get to the next stage of this story.
A few months back Billy noticed some blood in his urine. It is kind of a scary thing for anyone, and like anyone else he went to see a doctor. Well the doctor here ordered some tests done and it turned out Billy had some tumors on his bladder.
Things here got a bit more scary. I have never been good at saying the right and compassionate thing at a time like that, but I can say it was really hard just seeing a friend learn he has tumors, so I can’t even begin to imagine what he felt like, bu ti know it must not have been easy.
So the doctors order a surgery so that they can go inside and see what is really going on, so they can tell if they are cancerous, and if so, how bad of a situation he could be in.
Well last week they call Billy out and cut him open, take out a piece to do a biopsy and tell him they will know more about where everything stands in about a week or so. Once they get back the results they will call him in and figure out what the next step will be.
Well today was the day he got his results.
At around noon as I’m sitting at our bunk drinking my coffee and reading the Wall Street Journal, my Bunkie gets back from the hospital to me and some of the other fellas eager inquiries of “Well, you got your results? It’s all good right?” What we heard next was exactly what we didn’t want to hear.
My bunkie has the worst kind of high risk bladder cancer that is possible, and since it is in the bladder it is impossible to do chemotherapy. It is very, very serious and highly likely that they may have to do a bladder transplant / removal procedure. It is very risky and very dangerous. It is not looking good.
He tells me that when he is told, the first question he asks the doctor is “I just had a grandkid, I got 6 months left, till I get out, will I make it?” To which the doctor just sighed and put his face in his hands.
It is not looking good.
I didn’t know how to respond, what do you say to someone who has just received such news? When you can’t say “this too shall pass” or “it’s all gonna be fine, just be patient” or “someday we’ll look back on this and laugh”. It turns out that the moment was just as difficult for him as it was for me and I just let him know that I’m here for him if there is anything I can do.
But he obviously is somewhere else inside his head and he turns to me and says to me “Do you know what the craziest thing is? Everything is brighter, everything is more alive.” He tells me how the grass seems greener, every leaf on every tree seems to blow beautifully, the sky is the most majestic blue he’s ever seen. Everything is so vivid, everything is so amazing.
Everything is just alive.
When I woke up this morning I had no idea that something like this would happen. I had my own little world with my own selfish petty little problems. As I got to sleep tonight I think only of how grateful I am for today. How grateful I am for my health and I just reflect on how fragile life can really be. Nothing is every guaranteed and we gotta be thankful for all we have today. We all have wreckage in our past, we’ve all hurt others and we’ve all been hurt ourselves, we can’t control our past, we can only do what is necessary now so we don’t make those same mistakes again. In my bunkie Billy I have a good friend. Regardless of us being in prison or how we came to be here, his crime in the past for mine, I respect him as much or more as anyone I ever met. Tonight when I go to sleep I’m going to do something I don’t often do, and that is pray. I’m gonna pray for Billy, pray for myself and my friends and family, and I’m even going to pray for my enemies, whomever they may be. A little help never hurt anyone.
Until next time, KEEP ON RICH ROLLIN’
- D Dart
Song for this diary:
Artist: Simon & Garfunkel
Song: Sounds of Silence