A TIME TO PLANT TEARS

By

A TIME TO PLANT TEARS

By Dennis Shields

Dennis Shields is the Executive Chairman of the Board of Esquire Bank a publically traded federally chartered bank. He is a founder and chairman of Yield Street one of the largest crowd funding companies in alternative assets in the United States. He is the Chairman of Esquire Payment Systems. He was previously the chairman and founder of HealthShield until its sale in 1999. He has written two critically acclaimed books and was a character in the movie The Girlfriend Experience. He is a pioneer in the alternative asset space where he is a market leader in five or six different asset classes. He is philanthropic and a strong supporter of epilepsy research.

 

A TIME TO PLANT TEARS

“The more I push the morphine button, the more I like my visitors,” David said.

“You’re becoming quite the cynic,” I said.

“Sorry, I never pictured lying in a bed like this. Dying is something I didn’t plan on.”

“You’re not going to die.”

“I hate to see my parents suffer. I don’t think I’ll see another summer.”

“Why do you talk like that?” I said, trying to keep my voice steady.

The oncologists told us to have a positive attitude. My old man, a doctor by trade and a cynic by nature, said attitude meant nothing. It was all staging, type, and origin. The news wasn’t good. It was a non-Hodgkin’s, large T-cell, Stage Four tumor.

“By spring, you will be fine. This won’t even be a memory,” I said.

A matronly nurse named Gail came into the room. She checked the computer, fluffed the pillows, and left. Someone came in to take blood. Outside, the dark sky promised a storm, but for the moment everything remained calm.

People came throughout the day with food and well-wishes, the mood jovial, a Yankees game played silently on the television. This was the Yankees after Munson, Guidry, and Gossage, but before Jeter, Mariano, and Jorge. David liked the Mets, whom he suffered with until they won the World Series, thanks to Bill Buckner.

The people came and went like people do. A few appeared often, like Big Gail, just trying to comfort David. Others came once or twice. Some doctors appeared for a few minutes, warm and caring, or so they seemed, but never to return.

The room smelled like a hospital room. Machines beeped, flowers slowly died and were replaced by others, the TV sometimes blared for no reason. But, mostly, isolation.

David lay in the hospital bed, the door to his room open, the lights off. The room was dark, shades only of gray. Sounds of laughter, of careless banter, a burst of noise as people passed. He was in a parallel universe. Outside the room were colors and nuances of meaning. There was innocence and happiness out there, and cruelty and deceit, but here, in this room, nothing existed but tests, results, and charts documenting the slow, inexorable journey toward nothingness.

I couldn’t believe my friend, not yet twenty-one, was in a fight for his life. His birthday was September 28. By the time his hair would be gone.

David’s two brothers and sister appeared hopeful. I wondered if they thought their brother would die. It was good to think about things. Sometimes it was better not to think too much.

Less than two weeks earlier, I had called to see how David’s senior year at Cornell was going.

“Good, except for this nagging cough.”

He had the cough before he began the semester, the night we played squash with my father and Dick Berglund, a respected neurosurgeon and a drunk. The cough was unremarkable, worse when he exercised. David told me then he would see a doctor anyway.

Late that afternoon his parents picked him up. He had gotten a chest X-ray, which was abnormal. The cough wasn’t going away anytime soon.

That first day in the hospital was ten days ago. It felt like a lifetime. The hospital had called late the night before to remind the family David had to be there at 6:00 a.m. As though they would forget.

And David had sat, waiting to be called for the definitive test that would tell him if he had a bad cough or cancer. He got there promptly at six o’clock in the morning, with his mother, father, two brothers, and his sister.

“Who wants coffee?” his father asked.

Elizabeth’s, David’s mother, said, “Larry, David’s not supposed to eat or drink before his test.”

“Does anyone else want coffee?” Larry want, walking towards the door.

His mother, said, “Do you mind if we go with your father?”

David said, “No. Go. I’ll stay here. I want to read.”

“Dad, remember Aunt Sylvia is coming and she only drinks chamomile tea,” David said.

“Ah, sure, David. How could I forget?” Larry spoke as though he had nothing to worry about except Aunt Sylvia’s simple tastes. They left.

That was the thing about David. He expected you to be kind, and you were kind. He expected you to act well, and you did. David had been like that since he was a little kid.

So far all my friend did at the hospital was wait.

I came to the floor and saw David.

He smiled when he saw me and said, “Hey.”

“Sorry I was late.”

“Nothing’s happened yet.”

“So, why’d they have you come so early?”

“I don’t know.”

“Where are your parents?”

“I sent them to get breakfast. To tell the truth, it’s hard enough to be afraid alone, but harder still to be brave for others.”

What can you say to that?

You get sick and dread colors your world black. Patients get the diagnosis and trudge on. Time passes. The nightmare wears you down. You’re beating the odds until you don’t.

David never cared about winning. He wanted people to be happy. He wasn’t altruistic, just kind.

Late that afternoon David saw a nurse and asked her to unhook his heart monitor. After she left, he headed toward the children’s game room. He saw young kids walking around with IVs attached to them. Some smiled and laughed. Others were somber. Everyone had a look in their eyes that tore David apart. They had seen death up close. No child should see that.

A boy who looked to be about ten challenged David to a game of Monopoly. They played for almost an hour, even though David grew fatigued. The kid’s grandmother put her grandson in a wheelchair and pushed him out of the room. There was a story there, not a pleasant one, and not one David wanted to hear.

During the night, the hospital cooled down. David’s room was as cold as a grave. He was going to call the nurse but saw that his mother was sleeping in the yellow plastic chair. David unhooked himself from the bed, got up, and gently put his blanket over his sweet, loving, kind, and brave mother. He understood that having cancer was being dealt a bad hand, but it wasn’t right that his mother had to suffer. She deserved the best, not this.

He kissed the top of her head, thinking how fragile she looked, and thanked her, again, for giving him such a beautiful life. He went back to bed and tried to sleep. He was so cold he was shivering. A nurse walked in. He pointed to his mother and mimed freezing. The nurse nodded and went to get more blankets.

David took off his hospital booties and put on long tube socks. As he looked at his feet, he thought, for the first time, “I have ugly feet.” He wondered if anyone else on the oncology ward was worried about having ugly feet. That gave him a laugh.

The night before chemo began, I arrived at New York Hospital at 9:15 p.m., running late from class. The security guards defended visiting hours like the hospital was Fort Knox. The next day would be David’s first treatment. I had promised I would see him before the chemo. I didn’t want to let him down.

The security guards were standing outside. I wondered what my father would do. He’d have no problem getting upstairs. I was driving his Mercedes with M.D. plates and pulled up halfway onto the curb. Two of NY Hospital’s finest hurried to prevent someone from visiting a sick friend or a father running late to see his newborn baby.

“Hey, bud, you can’t park here,” the smaller officer said.

The second officious guard grunted, “Move it.”

I got out of the car and gave him a dirty look, staring squarely into his eyes. “I’m Dr. Shields, and I’m not in the mood.”

“I’m sorry, Doc, but—”

“It’s Doctor,” I interrupted.

“Can you at least leave the keys?”

“No,” I growled.

“Okay, thanks. We’ll keep an eye on it,” the larger security guard said. “How long will you be?”

“Until I’m finished,” I said, as I walked into the hospital.

When I got to David’s room, I was shocked to see my father, the real Doctor Shields, sitting with the family.

A nurse came into the room late that night. David’s mother and father had rented hotel space near the hospital. Elizabeth had gone to get some sleep. They wanted to be there every moment, but knew it was better not to be.

It was David, his father Larry, and me.

“David, I have to give you a shot in the stomach,” the nurse said.

“Dad, I’m scared,” he said.

“I hear you, son. So am I.”

I contemplated God. Why him, God? Why him?

A few minutes later José, a damned good janitor, walked in. He cleaned quietly, with that sweet smile the patients welcomed in their souls, a respite from the worries the patients’ visitors brought.

José went back to polishing the floor and walked off, finally, with a gleaming, pristine surface where the nothingness remained supreme. I watched him go into a cubicle provided for interns and lie on an empty bed. He constantly shifted. Hopefully, with the dawn, he would sleep. The incessant despair of the children’s cancer ward did not lend itself to light-hearted dreams.

I left the hospital, encountering pouring rain, which cleansed the streets but not my spirits.

David told me later that sometime that night he decided he wouldn’t be afraid. You try to avoid a fight until you can’t. For David, the cancer had gone far enough. He had no illusions, nor tricks, nor mystifications. He lost all fear.

September came in, roaring its displeasure with the changes time wrought. Bitter winds and cold rain beat down on the just and the unjust, the blessed and the damned.

Earlier that summer we had played basketball at David’s house. He was Davey before he got sick. This was the height of Magic’s show time, before Mike hit his shot and became Michael. We would all rather make a great pass than score. None of us were that good. On that court, sweating in the hot sun, listening to Run-D.M.C.’s King of Rock blasting, we were Magic, Bird, and Worthy. We would play for hours— Billy, Mike, BZ, Petey, David, his brothers, and me. Someone had gotten sandwiches from the Woodrow Deli. We planned to go to Mother Kelly’s for dinner, and see a movie with Lisa Green, who promised to get Jackie Segal to come with us because David liked her.

Jackie didn’t show up. The night turned into David, Lisa, and me, at dinner and a movie. David, never giving up, insisted we go to the Sherwood Diner, hoping Jackie might be there. We got to the diner around one and ordered cheeseburgers and onion rings.

We ran into the Schwartz sisters, Andrea and Marcie. David liked Marcie also. Not as much as Jackie, but enough.

After the diner, we headed to the Schwartzs’ and sat around the pool, talking late into the night. It seemed like any other night, one in a string of unappreciated good times. Life was carefree. We were immortal.

That summer, we played ball, listened to Run-D.M.C., LL Cool J, Billy Joel, and Bruce. We drove around and laughed and went to the beach and did what we always did—what it felt like we could always do.

David’s chemo was working. The tumor shrank. His cough disappeared. After each hospital stay, the doctors became increasingly optimistic.

We were all back at David’s family’s house, laughing and enjoying the day. Larry and I drove to Pippo’s to pick up food for the large celebratory group. The car smelled of veal parmigiana and garlic.

We stopped at a light.

He looked at me, his eyes red. “You almost lost your best friend.”

I tried not to cry. “I don’t want to think about that. I’m just glad he’s okay.”

We entered the house carrying a feast, and everyone smiled at us as though we had done something remarkable.

Later that night, I went to Leslie Gold’s, who was babysitting. David insisted on driving me there. Larry came along. She had told me to wait in the driveway with the car lights on. Leslie came out in boxer shorts and a tight white tank top. She was so pretty. Her beauty betrayed her intelligence.

I got out of the car and turned back to see Larry and David smiling. David immaturely put on the brights. I laughed, relieved by the return of juvenility.

The doctors said that David’s next treatment might be the last. He’d breezed through the chemo. The oncologists could no longer detect the tumor.

The following month seemed normal. David no longer had to wear a mask when he went out. We went to a Run-D.M.C. concert and sang along, knowing every word, leaving the concert with our voices hoarse.

In David’s bedroom, next to a picture of Albert Einstein, and a Springsteen Born in the U.S.A. poster, David had a framed sign over his bed. In black block letters: “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” William James.

David did many things which made a difference. Years earlier I had watched David play soccer, beads of sweat glistened on David’s face as he chased the ball Minh had kicked over the fence. “The noun has to come before the verb,” David gasped.

David had won the TESOL award the past two years. He was earning it again. Most people participated in TESOL for their college applications. David did it because it was the right thing to do.

The TESOL kids, poor foreign students, spoke little English. David’s closest friend in the program, a Vietnamese boy named Minh, loved soccer.

He tutored Minh over that summer as he practiced soccer with him. Minh conjugated the verb “to be” for the hundredth time. He missed the goal by thirty feet, and David chased the ball again.

Minh was a terrible soccer player, and David was marginal at best. An incoming senior, Minh had wanted to try out for the Lawrence High School Soccer Team. He had no chance of making it. Lawrence was the second-best soccer team on Long Island and had the country’s best player, Juan Vargas.

Before cuts, David had gone to see Mr. Meredith, the coach. He tried to convince him to take Minh. While David argued about giving child six thousand miles from home a chance, Juan Vargas nodded in agreement. Minh made the team.

By midseason Minh played more than David. At the championship dinner, they gave Minh the Most Improved Player trophy. He cried and gave the award to David, thanking him for treating him like a human being.

David had said, “It’s rather embarrassing to hold the worst player award and most improved simultaneously.”

When everything looked like it was going well after the course of chemo, Larry took David to the beach, to a cottage David’s aunt owned, where good memories abounded, from a far simpler time. The old beachfront cottage had overgrown shrubbery in the front, two small bedrooms, old rickety rocking chairs on the porch, and a sofa that sunk in the middle. A small bookcase in the living room contained several used books, left by people who did not care enough to take them home.

David went into the smaller of the bedrooms and lay down on the bed. He heard wind whistling through the shrubs, and down the path to the ocean, where the waves beat up against the pier. David felt the breeze inch through the window and cool the room.

My friend lay there for a long time thinking about his life, basking in the shabby room’s wooden walls, burnished nearly red with the patina of time.

David woke in the middle of the night and heard the wind and the angry roar of a disturbed ocean. In the morning, the wind blew even harder, and the waves were high, reaching the porch of the cottage. David was awake for a while before he remembered the tests and the hospitals and the fear in his parents’ eyes.

When my mother’s kidney had to be removed, David visited the hospital every day, bringing gifts to cheer her up. He sat and listened to my mother for hours, as she ranted about philosophy or complained about my father. My mother said, “As a girl I believed in everything. Then I met him, and now I believe in nothing.”

David listened patiently. My sister rolled her eyes.

On my mother’s last day in the hospital, he’d run out of gift ideas and brought matchbox cars and chopped liver.

When David was around, the world was brighter. I wished I was more like him.

On Tuesday afternoon, Larry and Elizabeth Silver received a message that the doctors had to talk to them. When someone has to talk to you, it’s never good. Dr. Johnson told them the tumor had reappeared. David went back into New York Hospital. The mood was dour.

The cough grew stronger as the chemo continued. Elizabeth and Larry remained optimistic, but the fear returned to their eyes. They were sick of New York City, the buildings, the concrete walls, their friends calling daily for updates, and the glib doctors with their practiced patter. David needed a bone marrow transplant. After careful consideration, the family chose the Medical Center at the University of Nebraska.

Brad, Billy, Mike, and I went to Omaha to visit David before the procedure. I learned they drill the marrow from your hip, which is excruciating. When we arrived at the hospital, David looked good. His hair had grown back and he had put on weight. It was like old times, talking and laughing, not thinking about white blood counts, tumors that grow aggressively, or surgical drills.

That night, as I lay in my hotel room, not sleeping, I remembered our drive to Atlantic City—David, Gangemi, Kolby, and I. We stopped at a Roy Rogers. Kolby thought it funny to call David “Reiger,” referring to his slight resemblance to Judd Hirsch’s character in Taxi. Gangemi inexplicably sang the beginning of a Jerry Lee Lewis song repeatedly: “Put your red dress on, baby, ‘cause we gonna go out tonight.”

Kolby and Gangemi got the food, while David and I waited in the parking lot.

We continued our journey. The sun shone brightly. The radio reported ninety-four-degree temperatures and getting warmer. We passed a sign, telling us we were half an hour away.

“Anyone for a steam bath?” I asked.

“I’m up for it,” David said, laughing.

I flipped off the air and closed the windows. We threw sweatshirts on. Springsteen’s “Spirit in the Night” blasted on the radio. I turned the heat up as far as it would go.

Soon enough, we arrived at the beach. We raced out of the car, sweating heavily, took off as much of our clothing as was legally allowed, and ran into the ocean. We cavorted in the ice-cold water, throwing ourselves about and body surfing. After about ten minutes, we danced out of the ocean, drying ourselves with our sweatshirts.

“It was a helluva swim,” I said.

“Grand, wasn’t it?” David asked.

This made it a wonderful day. I was sure we would win big that evening.

We gambled until three o’clock in the morning, at which point, bereft of funds, we had just enough money for tolls and gas.

It took great willpower to not risk the ride home.

In Omaha, we got to the hospital early the next morning. David played on the mini pool table we had given him, with a nine-year-old who had no hair. The boy’s bones stuck out from under his gown. David made him laugh with his inept shots, and he gave the child the pool table.

When everyone else left, I sat there not knowing what to say.

“It’s the pain that gets to me, and it’s breaking me,” David said.

“You’ll be better soon,” I told him.

“I don’t believe you,” he said, “but isn’t it pretty to think so?”

Suddenly I saw a shadow that rested its body in the chair at the foot of the bed. I swear I smelled its breath. David was going to die.

David said, “It’s enough already. I’m getting bored with dying.”

“You can’t call lying in a hospital bed with everyone speaking in whispers, and not letting you know what they think, entertaining,” I said.

“I know what they think. The party’s over, and they want to go home.” He laughed, then coughed. “I want to go home too, just not in a coffin. They give you blue paper robes. I never could figure out how to put them on or where to tie the ties, which rip in my hands. I want to be brave, but I’m no hero. There aren’t any heroes in blue paper robes, even if you put on two, one back to front, one front to back.”

I left my friend to face the bone marrow transplant with his brothers, sister, and parents, with their eternal hope, which masked an unrelenting dread.

The transplant didn’t work, only causing David more pain.

The family headed to MD Anderson in Texas to try an experimental treatment. By this time, I understood experimental treatment meant trying something that hurt and wouldn’t work. I went to visit David the following Thursday. When I got there, I waited with his parents. It was another MRI, another day of bad news. I went to the cafeteria either to eat or to get away from David’s parents and their anguish.

I sat next to an emaciated man at a round table. He had a hospital gown on, and a T-shirt underneath that said, “I am the man from Nantucket.” I ate sweet and sour chicken, which wasn’t half bad. The man laughed at his food as he ate. The laugh turned into a cough. I got up and gave him water.

“Thank you,” he said. “Who are you, and what are you doing here?”

He seemed angry and pleasant at the same time.

“Visiting my best friend,” I said. “You?”

“Dying.”

“Cancer?” I asked.

“Yup.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“Don’t apologize. It’s a sign of weakness. Your friend . . . his name David?”

“That’s him.”

“Fine boy. Brings me an extra blanket every night. Writes letters for me.”

“He’s a good person.”

“Only the good die young,” the man said.

On that note I walked out, heading for David’s room. He was sleeping. Larry and Elizabeth sat in the family waiting room, sitting upright, staring at the wall. I waved to them and headed back to the hotel to pack.

Stopping at the hospital one last time on my way to the airport, I went into David’s room. His mother was asleep in a chair with a blanket covering her.

I couldn’t hide my fear.

“Did your dog die?” David asked.

“Just thinking,” I said. “I met a friend of yours in the cafeteria, a crazy old man.”

“I like him,” David said.

“You would.”

A machine kept beeping. Larry wiped the sweat from David’s face.

“You’d think with all the steroids I’d be bigger,” David said.

No one answered. David fell asleep.

“He needs rest. He’s getting another procedure this week,” Larry said, forcing a smile.

“He looks okay,” I lied.

“David’s a fighter,” Larry said.

“I’m heading to the airport.”

Larry didn’t respond. He just stared.

I touched David’s head. “Good-bye, my friend,” I said, hugging Larry and saying a silent good-bye to a sleeping Elizabeth.

As I headed to the airport in a taxi, tears flowed down my face. Passing a cemetery, I told the driver to stop. I got out, not knowing why. I walked among the well-kept tombs, the small graves, the monuments to people resting there. I sat on the grass in front of a large tombstone, thinking about David. Every moment with him had been a gift.

I felt serene.

I walked back to the taxi and tripped, falling in front of a stone with a woman’s name. The girl had been seventeen when she died. I didn’t know her. I had never seen her face. She was a stranger. I didn’t know why or how she died. She was dead. The reasons didn’t matter. It was something horrible. Now it was over, just like her life.

No longer at peace, no longer hearing David’s laughter. I missed my life.

I got home and slept for fourteen hours straight.

The following Saturday I ran into Marcie Schwartz at a club.

“How is David doing?” she asked.

“He’s going to a carnival tomorrow.”

“That sounds good,” she said, forcing a smile.

She was damn good-looking.

“How are you doing?” she said. “You seem happy.”

“Happy, hell,” I said. “I’m surviving.”

The whole scene made me nauseated. David should be here with us.

The night went into early morning. I hugged Marcie when she left. I held her tight. We were thinking about David.

David wanted to get life experience. Well, no experiences for him, no great or small love, no becoming a doctor. He wanted to ski in Europe. David wanted to love a girl who loved him back. He wanted to be young and reckless, instead of putting on those damn blue strings, tying one in the back and one in the front.

My friend planned to go abroad after his junior year but elected to stay in the city and work in a lab, studying white rats. Look where that got him.

Sunday was rough. I spoke to David. He said his white blood cell count was too low. “I’m tired of numbers. Fifty percent morbidity, seventy-five percent chance of success, eighteen percent on misstaging, one hundred percent of people who die from cancer die. That’s an easy number.”

His parents sat by the bedside, watching their son. David resembled the nine-year-old boy in Nebraska. He weighed less than a hundred pounds.

David went to the carnival on Sunday, or maybe it was a dream. He took a ride in a small airplane with a friendly pilot, seeing shifting clouds in hues from golden pinks to luscious silver, seeing a heavy forest and hills stretching across the landscape.

The pilot turned to David and pointed ahead. The clouds formed a snow-capped mountain. David could see that shimmering mass of alpine glory. He breathed a little sigh and knew that he was going there and he was going there soon. His fight was over.

David awoke the next morning at 8:30 a.m. in the CICU, every part of his body rife with pain.

His father drew closer as his son tried to speak, each breath a struggle, followed by a horrible wheezing. David coughed violently, unable to take air in. Larry sat there, helpless, tears streaming down his face. He took David’s hand. “I’m here, son. I’m with you.”

David finally caught his breath, blood dripping down the side of his mouth. “I can’t breathe, Daddy.” He was crying. The cough came back stronger. He squeezed his father’s hand lightly. After a moment David said, “Take care of Mom and the kids. Take care of yourself.”

He gasped, trying to swallow more air. “I love you,” he said. He coughed again. His eyes grew red. “I can’t breathe,” he whispered.

His eyes closed as Larry Silver watched the life leave his son’s body. He was no more.

At David’s funeral, people filled the entire synagogue. Mourners crowded the aisles and packed the lobby because there weren’t enough seats. They set up a closed-circuit TV so everyone could watch the service. People stood around the coffin: guys from the track, coworkers from the research lab who mentioned the incredible work he had done, which I never knew; the woman from the school blood drive where David contributed every year; the Little League team he coached, their parents, even the student umpires. The team finished in last place every year because David believed in playing everyone.

It was during the school year, but kids came from all over the country, wanting to say good-bye.

One of the saddest things I’ve ever seen were Todd and Brad, eyes red, staring at the coffin where David lay, quizzical looks on their faces. When they turned away and walked toward me, it was the end of our childhood.

Many people spoke. I don’t remember what anyone said except for David’s father. I remember his every word.

“The worst words a man can say are I lost my child today. 

You cannot die. You cannot be dead. I see your smile. I hear your laughter. I feel your hand in mine. 

They put a white sheet over your face. I can’t believe you’re gone. I want to believe that life has meaning. I want to believe in happiness. I do not, but I believe in the beauty of my wonderful child. 

You were born, and the world was good. I remember you and remember a bright world filled with color. I died with you and die again each day. I hope there is a heaven. I know there is a hell.

Sometimes during the day funny things happen. I laugh and can’t wait to share the moment with you. As bereft as I am, the goodness in you gives me hope. I carry your heart in my heart. I remember your courage and your spirit. I know you’re listening to this. 

Your last words may have been, “I can’t breathe, Dad, I can’t breathe,” but every bit of laughter, every kind word, every minute of your existence will live on, in my memory, and your mother’s memory, and your sister and brothers’ memories, and in the memory of everyone who knew you.

You made this world a better place. You made everyone who knew you a better person. You’ve given us the strength and courage to go on.

David, thank you for your time with us. Thank you for being you. My beautiful son, I love you.”

Seven Years Later

I drove to the airport to take a plane to LA. It was raining lightly. The sun came from behind the clouds. I looked up at the sky and saw a rainbow arcing downward, shimmering still in the last drops of water. A beautiful, colored shape, bathed in sunlight, came toward me. I knew, without knowing, this was David, now at peace.

“David, please give me a sign.”

The sun’s rays illuminated every inch of the earth, every tree, every building, every person who walked by. I felt a cool breeze caressing me, carrying the scent of roses. I could touch the colors of the rainbow and heard a song of infinite beauty.

I took the next exit and turned back east, going to the cemetery where they had placed David’s remains. I sat in front of his bier and remembered the last seven years and how I had changed. I worked hard to make money for my family and forgot the reason why. I had lost my way, or myself, like most of my friends, and we knew there was not a damn thing we could do about it.

What was the point of it all—life, death, despair? No matter how good you were, you could die for no reason, at any time.

I looked at what I had become. The ice within me melted. My fear and anger disappeared. I knew I could take a different and better path.

Was it David or just some strange weather phenomenon? I like to think it was David.

For the first time in a long time, my answer to life’s questions was yes.

Yes.

Yes.

 

 
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