This blog post is dedicated to my friend, Tom Siegman. I called him on his birthday the other day and he said, “hey man, keep on blogging.”
A few days ago, a friend of ours passed away. He was young, too young. Blogged on it here.
In the months leading up to this, people had the opportunity to go visit him and spend some time with him, just to keep him company during his time in between chemo, etc.
Last summer, I spent 2 hours with him and we spent the first hour talking about serious things, like American foreign policy, educational systems, the rise of China, etc.
At some point, talk turned to his illness. He couldn’t really eat food. He would get his nutrients through an IV, but he would drink just to avoid feeling parched and then, as I understand it, most of it would just go straight out of a tube in his stomach to the bag he carried around with him.
Now, I’m not sure exactly how we got the idea, but at some point (knowing me, it was probably I who came up with it), we realized that he could drink as much alcohol as he wanted and not get drunk.
From there, the plan we hatched was to go to the University of Maryland and challenge all of the frat boys to drinking contests for money. We saw an opportunity for him to “monetize his illness.” We both had a good laugh at this.
Now, some may think this crass, but what I think it represented for Gordon (and for all of us) is the ability to keep a light-hearted spirit during times of tremendous strain.
The gravity of the situation wasn’t lost on us, but the fact that we were able to have a laugh at the same time is, I think something that is commendable—mostly for him, as I wasn’t faced with the issue, of course.
I do recall reading somewhere (and I can’t remember right now where it was), that people who can laugh when faced with serious challenges are more likely to persevere than those who cannot.
In the long run, the disease got Gordon, but from all accounts, and from what I saw, he was a true fighter all along the way. I suspect this type of attitude had something to do with it.