Archive for the ‘death’ Category

It’s been a while…

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

I seem to have stopped blogging, don’t I. Lots of it is because I’m on Twitter now, and once I’ve gotten a thought out in 140 characters, it no longer feels worth the effort to develop it in a proper post.

Biggest news since my last post: my mother died. She was 66. It was unexpected. She was less than 20 years older than me and I expected her to be active into her nineties, as her mother still is. I didn’t blog about that because her death affected so many people so intensely that I would have been blogging other people’s stories, not just mine. It didn’t feel right.

This is the picture I have on my work computer as wallpaper:
Vivian and Alison

You can still buy tea towels.

writing to Alston

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

The Blork Blog
Zura Rants
chicagoan in montréal
ni vu ni connu
Utopia Moment
Shatnerian
i.never.nu
Montreal City Weblog
Fagstein
The Smoking Section
Vague Diva

Also see:
Alston Adams on Facebook
Sending you good vibes, Alston on Facebook
alstonadams on Twitter

Alston on Alston
Here’s some cached text from youngadultcancer.ca. It’s Alston talking about going on the “July 11-23, 2009 – Owyhee River Kayaking Expedition, SE Oregon, USA” trip organized by YAC and the subject of the film Wrong Way to Hope.

Until May 1, 2007, I led a trite and meaningless existence. Just kidding. Until that date, life was pretty great in most ways. I had just started a new and interesting career in video games. And then…well, you know what happened then. The details: esophageal cancer. One of the worst ones, and unusual for someone that was only 32.

This is a bio, which normally means that it is very much of a compilation of who you are and what you’ve done. It’s part character sketch and part CV. But unlike many other major events in life such as marriage, first child, etc., this one tends to obliterate your life B.C. (before cancer). The effect of this is that UI and many others focus much less on the past and put more emphasis on the future, but especially the present. And that is why I am going to travel for 2 weeks on the Owyhee River with others like me.

This trip is an opportunity to make an impact in people’s live right now. Instantaneously. People around me are organizing themselves in order to realize something they believe in. I personally am reminded of my vitality and ability to contribute to something important to society. And it gets me out of the limbo of uncertainty that surrounds people my age hit with some serious disease.

I am a man, alive, relevant and vital. I am here, right now.

Alston Adams 1974–2010

Monday, October 4th, 2010

We met, oh, six years ago? at a YULblog meeting. He was young, social, full of life and angry. Our names sounded sort of the same. I’m the oldest of five, he was the youngest of five. He was in an interracial relationship, I’m from a mixed-race family. We had little in common but there was a feeling of kinship anyway.

Three years ago he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

Two weeks ago we took him for a drive in the country. We thought that sitting in the car being driven around would be about all the activity he could handle, and as it turned out we had overestimated him.

His goal was to make it to his 36th birthday, which would have been November 8th.

He didn’t make it.

You know what they say about doing whatever it is now, not putting it off because there may never be a later? Yeah. What they say.

Carpe diem.

My goodness this has been an exciting week!

Friday, August 13th, 2010

First my friend tweets that he thinks he may be dying,* then I hear that someone else has skin cancer,** then… Mark wins round trip tickets for two to Paris. And he invites me to go with him!
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* He’s now in the ICU but appears to be making a full and speedy recovery.
** Which is expected to be fully and speedily recovered from, but still.

Twitter: messages in bottles from stranded naufragés

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

A very dear friend Twittered last night that he might be dying.*

Depuis 15 h, ma température est passée de 99,3 à 100,7. Je suis conscient que ma vie peut se jouer dans les heures à venir. Sentiment d’aventure…

He’s worried about the folks he’d leave behind.

Il y a des gens ici qui ont besoin de moi. Je ne dis pas émotionnellement, bien que cette dimension soit évidemment présente, mais directement, de manière très concrète, parce que leur vie est imbriquée dans la mienne. Je ne connais pas de tristesse plus profonde que ce sentiment de devoir, peut-être, abandonner ces gens qui m’ont donné leur confiance. À nouveau se battre.

He has a form of muscular dystrophy. Ten years ago he weighed 56 pounds, including the three steel rods in his spine; today he probably weighs less. He has trouble breathing because of his muscle wasting and he has just caught some sort of nasty cold from one of his staff. She was really really sick, so he is expecting to get really really sick, and when someone in his condition gets that sick they don’t always get better. He was watching his temperature go up last night and wondering whether to call an ambulance to be taken to the Montreal Chest Hospital. I’ll be making calls later this morning to find out the outcome.

He and his sister (who has the same genetic condition and lives in an adjacent apartment) do some wonderful, intensive work for people who are marginal in our society. They have employed illiterate people, drug addicts, people without family, and immigrants – particularly from Haiti. They employed me. They don’t pay much: they receive an allowance from the government to hire staff for a little over minimum wage, so the staff they hire are people who are unable to find better-paying work. They teach them french, they coach them in relationships, they explain Québec culture and help people figure out how to cope with their new situations. They have shared their living space. Whatever they can do to help someone develop their full potential. Most of all, they offer profound, unjudging friendship.

My friend is a disabled man without paid employment, but far from being a burden on society he is a householder who will leave behind people who will be poorer for his loss.

We all know he is going to die. We first met in the late eighties, when he was seventeen. He thought he might have ten years left then, for the last five of which he wouldn’t have the strength to lift a pencil. He’s outlived everyone’s expectations. But we all hope… not yet. Please.

*** *** ***
A friend responds, “What an incredible opportunity to thank him for all that he has meant to you and the world.” Wise advice, and I will follow it.

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* If you’re wondering why these tweets are longer than 140 characters, it’s called Twitlonger.

Vaccinated!

Friday, November 27th, 2009

I went to the Stade Olympique yesterday for my H1N1 vaccine, my first-ever influenza shot. I’d never bothered before because it had always seemed like too much trouble and I wasn’t in a risk group. But for H1N1 they’ve made it really easy and I’d taken the day off work anyway so I could do it whenever and wherever it was convenient.

I still had to think about whether protecting myself against a deadly strain of influenza virus was really something I wanted to do. A likely outcome is that I will have a longer old age, which is not something I necessarily want. (Healthy but not particularly long would really be the ideal for me.) But another likely outcome is that I will not be a vector transmitting H1N1 to other people who might actually be gunning for that long, productive life but who might not be in a condition right now to be vaccinated: small babies, for instance, can’t be effectively immunized against influenza. My friend with cancer, who most definitely wants to live, may get only limited protection from a vaccine and is largely dependent on the people around him to not transmit it to him. The girlfriend of the woman who is dying of lung cancer in the apartment upstairs will not be able to point the finger at me as being the one who infected her with her final illness. And I will not interrupt the old ages, happily surrounded by children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, of my old relatives.

So I got the H1N1 vaccine and will get the seasonal flu vaccine when it becomes available. If I ever decide my old age is dragging on too long there are ways around that that do not involve making other people sick.