Maybe it’s all this talk of the liar-in-chief down yonder south, but today I’ve been thinking a lot about Tim, and stuff I hadn’t thought of for so long. Or, maybe it’s just the rotten horrible no good gas pains that had me doubled over earlier, no doubt due to the microwave Shepherds Pie I ate late last night when I should have been in bed. Sure, but freaked me out.
Six years have happened, so much changed, in place and mind, and I find myself now somewhere that is just where I want to be, and isn’t that good? Oh, sure, who knows what happens next year, next month, next decade, but here and now I am somewhere I want to be, doing things I want to do, and man does that feel fine.
So thinking of Tim can be jarring. Thinking of who I was, the things he did, said, was.
All euphemisms aside, as a coke dealer for an outer ring of the Toronto burbs that surround it, doing runs for a group of musicians, he was the backdoor guy, I eventually found out. Not right away though, no, right away I was gobsmacked by sadness and loneliness and he snatched me up into his world and I put up no fuss.
Today there would be a fuss, but not then.
No, I was isolated in my 12th-floor apartment in the sky, ducking into the pub after work once too often for my own mental health, life kinda sucked. He came in, washed the dishes and cheered me up. At first with his charm, then with his white Peruvian marching powder and his lifestyle.
You know, in the end, I can say that shite never really got me, and not sure it could, as I can’t imagine feeling that way now. As one who thinks too much, to begin with, that shite is highly conducive to PaulaB at a frequency only dogs could stand. Holy batman, no, after a time that pitch gets really boring, real quick, and I’m up in my own intellectual stratosphere all on my own.
But Tim was addicted, it did something for him, like Ritalin, as he was a hardcore ADHD, with a side of dyslexia, but they never found that out till he was much, much older, out of school, and in jail I later discovered.
Maybe it took some hidden pain away he had inside, but unfortunately, it also dulled the actual physical pain, and so that tumour inside him grew, and grew, and grew some more, all hidden behind his guts and such, on his pancreas.
I think he started back into it, after a long stint away, after the death of his mother. I think that really turned him for a loop, and his relationship of 18 years blew up in his face, his own fault, and he dove back in like a fish to water.
He’d fallen off a roof a number of years before, and ever since he’d been going to this doctor for the ‘pain’, and the good doc prescribed him the opioid of choice at the time, perk’s as their referred on the street, which is a short form of their name, and what they do.
Will I say he was lying to the ol’doc? Obviously not at first, and maybe not later, and maybe he had some pain still, and I don’t know how it really all came about, or the real details as Tim wasn’t all that good at sharing those, but he kept a few back and sold the rest and went and scored some coke…his medication of choice, and how long he’d done that for I have no idea.
After researching it all once he was diagnosed, and after all that happened, I know a few things now about what the early signs were of his cancer, and what the doctors missed. I kept a file, and still have it, packed away somewhere.
Tim was obsessed with what the doctors had missed from an MRI or Catscan (can’t recall which) that had been done the April of that year, but no one saw it until September when he went yellow. Those scans were sent down to the University Hospital here in London, and a specialist, Dr. McAllister saw it right away, and down we went to London and began the journey of the 395 days till his eventual death from it.
Some people afterwards, given his size and his bad habits, said they were surprised he lasted that long, but they didn’t know Tim.
And that’s what I was thinking about today. How blawdy hard he fought. Tooth and nail, all uphill, and against all the odds, he fought to stay in this world.
I remember having such incredibly mixed feelings. I cared about him, but he had done so much to me, took my money, my trust, my peace of mind, and lied like no one I’d ever met before, about every blawdy thing, and even after getting away from all the crap in the city to the Lake, and that wonderful cottage, and the great memories we had there, after it all, I had to stay and see it through, and I did love him. I just… was also very aware of the whole after Tim part, and much more so than he would have liked. He knew.
But he fought, and he bullied the nurses for this, and that, and bullied me, and pushed and fought some more, and god help me was he a horrible, horrible, horrible patient, but man did he fight it.
If only’s were never spoken of, but I saw them in the shadows, in the corners, and wondered myself how long he would have had if he’d not self-medicated, cause it was only after we’d left the city and away from that life he had led that the symptoms appeared – after he’d stopped doing coke. But he blamed it all on the Doctors, for missing that itsy, bitsy tip of that tumour poking up over the top of his stomach, invisible to anyone but a specialist.
His history, his addictions, his past lying about his health, and getting caught, all played a role as well. They just didn’t at first really believe him.
Oh, what if.
When we first moved up to the cottage it was just once in a while, every couple of weeks, maybe less, maybe more, at first he went down to his guy for a bag, but after a while even that stopped, and by the time that pain set in, it had been almost two years since, he was clean, eating well, and he was in pain and no one could say exactly why, until he turned yellow when a bile duct had become blocked by the tumour, and the truth was revealed.
I was there with him when Dr. McAllister, with no sugar-coating, bluntly proclaimed Tim, you have Pancreatic Cancer, it wasn’t a surprise, not to me, just a confirmation, and of where and what its name was.
That’s really when he started his long fight, that day, there in the hospital as we found out, and our overnight stay was turned into more like 3 weeks, cause they were not messing around and it was coming out.
So with the clothes on our back, and just another set in a bag, it all began, and sort of maybe foreshadowed how it all went down, with no sugar-coating, and all at once, and everything just happened, rides, time, appointments, death.
And god help me, he fought.
So when the minister from Tim’s Dad’s church asked me if I’d like to write something for her to say at the service at the church, about Tim, and it was a poem I’d read long ago in High School that kept turning around in my mind, the lines I repeated again and again in my mind – rage, rage against the dying of the light – by Dylan Thomas.
And it’s these lines in particular that will always remind me of him, and how he fought, and how fragile life can be, how brutal with the truth, and with no compassion. So I suppose, in the end, the empathy is up to us to find inside ourselves, and maybe some forgiveness.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.