Tag Archives: wally

bye, wally

ok, i’m ready.

a couple of blog posts back i said i wasn’t ready to talk about my friend, wally.  i am now.

wally looked like he had been a handsome man at some point in his youth, but age, addiction and cancer had robbed him of that.  his sunken eyes and cheeks spoke to his sickened state better than any other feature on his dying body.  i’ve seen pictures of holocaust survivors in concentration camps that looked healthier than he did.

one day wally asked me for a new pair of pants.  i grabbed the key and we went up into the donations rooms to find him something.  since he didn’t own a belt, we tried to find pants that fit him snug.  we couldn’t.  he was too skinny.  it was then that it hit me how sick wally was.

i apologized for not being able to find him a pair of pants that fit but wally just shrugged it off and told me not to worry.  the dirty and torn jeans he had on would have to suffice.  i offered to find a pair at the clothing store down the street but he wouldn’t have anything of it.  he shook my hand, thanked me for my time and left.  his hands were bony and cold.

there are some memories that always stay with you.

on one overnight shift i was able to sit and talk with wally about his life.  he had not had an easy go at life by any stretch of the imagination, but, as he told me, ‘other people have had worse lives’.  i wasn’t sure then and i’m still not sure now whether he said that to comfort me or himself.  possibly both.

chemotherapy was wrecking his body, inside out.  the cancer he had was an aggressive type so the doctors were meeting it with equally aggressive therapy.  and there was wally stuck in the middle, his frail body barely holding up under such horrendous conditions.

drinking alcohol numbed the pain, he told me.  he didn’t care that it made things worse.  he was going to have as much fun with his friends as he could before he passed into the next life.  his immune system could just suck it up, he told me.

ha!

wally coughed up blood and i panicked slightly.  i think he saw the worried look on my face as he wiped the bloody spit from his lips.

‘don’t worry about it, lucas.  i’m fine’.

he wasn’t fine but the way he said it almost made me believe him.  his voice carried such warmth and care.  the type of voice that puts you at ease.  i wanted to believe him so badly but i knew the cancer had him in a bad way.

‘do you even want to beat cancer?’

i regretted asking it as soon as the words left my mouth.  how insensitive could i possibly be?

‘on most days, no.’

silence.

after a few moments, he continued:

‘i think i’m ready to die, lucas.  i’ve dealt with a lot of pain in my life and i think when i die the pain will end.’

i haven’t talked death so frankly with anyone in my life like i did with wally that night.

‘but, there are some days when i’m with good people – my friends, what remains of my family and relatives – that i gain more strength to want to fight and live longer.’

‘conversations like the one we are having right now, lucas, they give me more strength and desire to keep pushing forward’.

with that, he shook my hand and limped his way to his bed,  blessing me beyond any words could ever describe.
thanks, wally.  i hope your pain is gone now and you are finally at rest.

rip wally

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ashes to ashes

‘pick three items, lucas’.

he was already up off the couch and heading towards the kitchen.  this is dave at his best.

after street soccer on sunday night, dave came over to hang out for a bit.  he’s not living in the best of neighborhoods at the moment and as much time spent away, the better.  we debate whether or not it’s better than him living at the shelter.  the shelter was recently shot up.  7 rounds into the front of the building in a drive-by.  we side with his present location but have started apartment hunting again.

dave is an incredible cook.  everything he has ever made me to eat has been nothing less than amazing.  everything.  and he can do it with next to nothing in the kitchen.  he thrives off of making tasty dishes with as little as possible.  i think its his game.  it’s a fun game when you’re the one eating good food.

dave teaches me a bit about cooking.  he believes cooking is really easy and attempts to convince me of his truth.  after 10 minutes im pretty sure i can cook just as well as him.  power of persuasion takes another one down.

1o  minutes later we are eating a delicious meal.  kat and i compliment dave as we scarf down his recent creation.  he humbly brushes it off likes it’s nothing.  he picks up my guitar and starts playing some of his original licks.  he’s a good musician, too.

good times.  community at it’s finest.

dave has been making it more of a habit to come hang out.  i like that.  in the past, dave would disappear from months on end.  when you work with guys on the street it plays with your mind when your friends disappear for a while.  you dont know if they’re dead or alive.

the longer you do not hear from them, the deeper your fears become.

i hope dave keeps this habit up.

 

i lost another one of my friends back in east van last week.  wally had a lot of health problems when i first met at first united, constantly in and out of the hospital.  he had a very gentle spirit about him and a calming voice.  he always looked on the bright side of things, aware of but not willing to settle for the darker side of reality.

every time i asked wally how he was doing, he always answered ‘copasetic’.  i had to look up the word in the dictionary to figure out what he meant.  completely satisfactory.  when i pressed further what he meant, he told me that no matter what life threw at him, he wasn’t going to get too high on life nor would he go too low.  everything has a purpose, he would tell me.

i think he found great comfort in that.  i do too.

wally was another member of the first nations crew that spent their time drinking rubbing alcohol and mouth wash.  im not sure if it was the alcoholism that killed him or the cancer that ate away at his body.  im not sure what’s worse.

i’m pretty sure i could write a big, long post about wally that i did about africa but i don’t feel like doing that today.  i’m going to keep these memories inside for now.

 

lent started today.  happy ash wednesday.

i decided to give up losing any more friends for 40 days.  hopefully this works.

your prayers are appreciated.

 

you’ll be missed, wally.  dearly missed..

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