Binah (binah1013) wrote,

The Silver Lining and The Bitter End

One advantage to being under the weather for an extended time is weight loss. I do not own a scale, for I see no need to torture myself with such a device, but my clothes are loose. Even the formerly tight ones. I can't say this displeases me. I wish I could lose the congestion, fatigue and clamminess and retain the reduced appetite.

I can't say I'm unmedicated, but this is a good day health-wise. I took some Dayquil this morning and about a couple of hours ago I took ibuprofen. My energy level is good, which is a high point for this week. I'm feeling a bit superstitious, so I'll stop talking about this before I jinx myself.

The rest of my entry is going to be about an old friend that recently died. I knew him for about 20 years. Feel free to skip, if you like.

Jeff, a friend from high school died a couple of weeks ago. He was only 34. Cause of death was determined to be an undiagnosed liver ailment. I have a sneaking suspicion that he was probably tired of life and probably didn't mind in the slightest. I don't think he committed suicide, if only because it was ruled out as cause of death. It's entirely possible he drank himself to death, but we drifted apart over the last 10 years and I have little to base than on other than he liked to drink and could be secretive about it.

Cliff and I saw Jeff a handful of times in the last five years. Jeff was always good company. He was a smart, nice guy. I had a bit of a crush on him when we were in high school and he was dating my friend Kim. And yet, even back then we could see the seeds of "the problem with Jeff". He was more charming than he ever knew and we weren't concerned then. After all, it was just high school. There was time to get your act together.

The problem with Jeff? He just couldn't handle the day to day drudgery that life frequently demands of us. I don't think he ever went to school all five days of a week.

"Oh, it's Monday. We shouldn't expect to see Jeff at school."

"Oh, it's Friday. I don't think we'll see Jeff today."

"Ahh, Wednesday. I wonder if Jeff will come to school?"

"I guess Jeff didn't feel like coming to school this week!"

If he had left this behavior behind once he managed to graduate high school after 5 1/2 years, he probably would have been fine. However, he never grew out of it. In community college, he'd sign up for enough credits to qualify for his parents' health insurance and then drop a class or two. Even with a light schedule of 9 or less credit hours, his soon-not-to-be-girlfriend Kim suspected he failed classes. Not because he wasn't smart enough, but because he couldn't be bothered to go to class and do what he needed to do to pass.

The problem with Jeff wasn't going away. Though Jeff would never open up and talk about his problems, I know he was painfully aware of them. Kim felt he was depressed and had a terrible self image. I'm sure her leaving didn't help, but at some point a girl has to look out for herself.

Jeff never moved out of his parents' home. I know his father put off retirement for awhile knowing that retirement would probably include supporting Jeff. Jeff didn't want to be burden, but knew he was. He'd take jobs, but none would more than a few months. Last time he talked to me about work, he was with a temp agency. I can only guess he did his best to pay for his own cigarettes and beer.

I'm not sure if it was in effort to be less of a burden or whether he avoided help, he wouldn't see any type of doctor unless he could pay for it. At the time of death, he hadn't seen a doctor in five years according to his dad.

The last time I saw Jeff, his teeth were frightening. His front teeth were missing and the rest were looking rotten. I felt really bad for him, but of course, we certainly didn't discuss his dental health. It wasn't the first pink elephant we've ignored. I'm sure at that point he could only eat soft food. I could also tell that he must have been really short on cash. We went bowling, and he only wanted to play one game. He grudgingly let me buy him a drink, but only because I presented it in a way that I was buying everybody a drink. He'd accept no more.

I wish things could have been different for Jeff. He was a creative guy who would write funny and silly stories about the on-going fictional adventures of our circle of friends. He was a MacHead from the early 80's on, he played bass guitar and the organ. He designed webpages when IE was the new kid on the block. He loved Stephen King and was the guy who told me I should check out that new show on Fox, The X-Files. He said I should try Buffy, and he had a crush on Willow. We both liked Harry Connick Jr. and Weird Al Yankovic.

Ultimately, "the problem with Jeff" made him miserable and I think cut his life short. Could therapy have helped? Maybe, but Jeff refused to have it and I think his parents wouldn't push the issue. Were his parents enablers? Probably, but I suspect Jeff could have become a homeless person without the support they provided.

For all the brilliant things I could say about Jeff, his problem will always cast a shadow on what he was. Part of the reason we drifted apart can be blamed on the problem. He was uncomfortable with the progress in his friends' lives. I understood that, even if it saddened me. I wanted progress and success for him, too. But I don't think he could ever see that for himself, and that's a shame.
Tags: jeff, jinx, reduced appetite, sick

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