I’ve got no jokes today, kids.  I’m more than a little heartbroken.  And don’t panic – I’m fine (physically anyway) and so’s the parasite.

But this guy isn’t.  Most of you probably won’t even remember him.  After all, that post is from nearly two years ago.

Two years.

That means two years of chemo and fear and pain and surgery and transplants and waiting and false hope and broken promises and hospital rooms and empty eyes and shattered hearts.  And now he’s just…gone.

And I can’t quite explain why it upsets me so.  I met him only that one time, but he’s haunted my thoughts nearly every day these past two years.  Every time I was at Sloan for an exam or a scan, I’d consider taking a field trip up to the in-patient floors on the off-chance he might be there, that I could offer some kind of support.  But I never actually did it.  I’d get to that elevator, sometimes even get in it, and then I just couldn’t push the button, couldn’t face those long white hallways, couldn’t face the masks, the socks, the IV poles – any of it, really.  And every times I slunk out of those automatic doors and back onto the busy streets of Manhattan, I’d assure myself he wasn’t there, that he was doing just fine, and that next time I’d find out if he was there before my appointment so maybe I could bring him something nice from the outside.

But I never did.

And now I never will.

I’m going to his memorial this evening.  Well, I’m going to try and go to his memorial this evening.  We’ll see if I have the will power to actually walk myself in there.  It’s going to be hard to look at those kids.  I feel like I lied.  At the very least, I was complicit in the lie.

Everything is far from alright.

But I truly feel in my heart of hearts that being there is the right thing to do.  Because there’s nothing else I can do for him at this point other than remember him.  And really, in the end, I think that’s what we all want most – not to just disappear – not to be forgotten, at least not immediately.

I don’t even know his last name.

Yet I will never forget him.  And hopefully someday, if I ever get this book published, people will read the chapter about him and he will fold a tiny piece of himself into their hearts and souls, too.  And somehow he won’t disappear completely.

But today…right now…all I feel is the hole of him missing.  And just like the hard lump of my scar tissue, it’s right over my heart.  And I hope with all of that aching heart that this song was true for him.


  1. I am sure he is FAR from being forgotten – now, nor later. His children will carry the memory of their father and pass it down to their children. His wife will always carry part of him in her heart, no matter what her future brings. And you will carry his memory forward, both here and in your book.

    Please don’t beat yourself up too much – you did what you did for what were good reasons at the time. It’s too late for regrets.

  2. What is it about those fucking socks that is so upsetting? Is it because they are so ugly that they take away whatever dignity you try to maintain while being sick? I don’t know.


  3. You weren’t complicit in a lie. You were complicit in a life. We should all be so complicit in others’ lives when there’s something we can do to help. And you definitely helped those kids.

  4. The right answers aren’t apparent that often, but they seem so much more clear when we get a chance to second guess ourselves.

    Hope the time comes quickly when you feel good about your concern for him and his family and the need to question your own actions is gone. you followed your heart, it wasn’t wrong.

  5. I’m so sorry, Elly! I can offer only this, which echoes much of what’s been said already: You did what you could. You can’t be expected to do any more than what’s in your power to do at any given time.

  6. I heard about this on Thursday, though I never put it together with your blog post from two years ago (which I read at the time).
    You did the best you could at the time, based on what you knew, in a difficult situation, and that’s all any of us can do.

    I told a friend the other day that I know we’re REALLY adults now: somewhere between 25 and 33 the C-word changed from “cunt” to “cancer.”

  7. Ellie,
    I got your Unicorn mail yesterday afternoon…it was a big deal for me! It delivered many smiles and I thank you for your time and effort. My 9 yr old daughter pleaded to keep the envelope (she was there when I opened it) and my husband saw it on the table when he got home and he smiled and said “Cool! You should send her something back.” (and I will!)…my point is…if you can send an envelope full of stickers and have that much of a positive effect on a family of total strangers then you have a true gift…the gift of smile and cheer…no matter what went down at that guy’s house at dinner that night, I am certain you left him and his family with a bit of hope and a sliver of happy. A gift, I tell you! A honest to goodness gift! He was fortunate to have crossed your path at a crucial moment in his illness,…the part where hope is most needed in order to keep going…could it be that your positive POV and existence was the catalyst that urged him on one extra day or two? Yes, Most definitely! Work hard to get your book published so that you will be able to ‘help’ more folks like him out. You are amazing and it is an honor to know you! Besides, you draw
    great unicorns…Rett <8D

  8. Crap. Both those entries were just brutal, dude, I don’t know how you had the strength to go through it yourself, but I guess when it comes down to it, you have no choice. And I’m so happy it was over for you and you’re doing great and hopefully always will. And it’s so heartbreakingly sad for that poor man that things didn’t work out the same way for him. It’s a fucking FUCK of a disease and it doesn’t care, but one day? One day we will beat the shit out of it for good. And some other man or woman or child, just like him, will live.

    PS I don’t know if it helps one bit but I’m having a shitty ass week this week and feeling ultra sorry for myself, but having read this I feel better. Because seriously, there are problems then there are PROBLEMS. Thanks dude.

  9. I’m so sorry, Elly. I don’t know what else to say. But it sucks. And I’m thinking of you and sending warmest thoughts out to you and his family.

  10. Aww. Big fat virtual hugs for you Elly girl. Sometimes life sucks. Don’t beat yourself up over what you didn’t do. Hindsight is twenty twenty. We all get caught up in the living of our lives and do what we have to do. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

    You remembering him and grieving for him is enough. A guy who I worked with for awhile passed away a few years back and I didn’t even find out he’d died until a year later. I cried so hard. But about a month after that I saw his wife pass by outside the store where I was working. I chased her down and told her that I was sorry for his passing and that I just wanted her to know how big of an impression he’d made on my life and what a huge heart he’d had. She thanked me, but honestly, I think it made me feel better to say the words than it did her to hear them.


  11. Cancer fucking sucks. I try to write lots of things that might might might make you feel better but hells bells I have never been exactly where you are so I don’t fucking know. So I’m sending you lots and lots of (((((HUGS))))) from Vancouver. Because this has to just be one of those stupid hard dumb times that make no sense.

Comments are closed.