Showing Up

Nordic Boy knew this kid named Joel when he was little. The two of them are related- cousins of some sort, but in a distant sort of way. I wouldn’t call what they had a friendship, exactly. They were acquaintances, who knew the same people. They went to the same school for a while, but weren’t in the same grade. Nordic Boy’s sister was closer in age and knew this kid better. Nordic Boy remembers Joel as a nutty little rugrat who made people laugh. He also remembers that when he got to high school, he turned into a quieter, more serious person. After high school, Joel joined the Navy and ended up as a cook on a submarine. In recent years, he moved back to Wisconsin, got married, and now is a dad to nutty rugrats of his own. Nordic Boy hasn’t seen him in many, many years.

Last night, Nordic Boy’s mom called us to tell us that Joel hasn’t been feeling well lately. He went to the doctor and seven tumors were found throughout his body, including in his brain and pressing onto his spine. Within the last week, his body has begun to shut down. His speech is intermittent and he can no longer walk. The doctor has give him three weeks to live, tops. Just like that. He had just gotten a new job, and his insurance hasn’t kicked in yet. Hi wife and his kids are with him while he’s spending his last weeks in the hospital.

Nordic Boy got off the phone, and told what happened. We didn’t need to say much. I immediately knew what Nordic Boy was thinking, because I know what sort of person my Nordic Boy is.

Within an hour, he had booked a flight, and early this morning, he was on a plane to see Joel, and to help  his family in any way that he can. My guy isn’t a person who waits for a funeral to show up to honor someone.

Today is my birthday, and I couldn’t feel better about the fact that my birthday plans are altered, and that I spent the morning rushing to the airport and saying goodbye to the person I would most like to spend the day with. I feel like my present is that I am reminded, yet again, of how amazing people can be. One person in particular.


  1. damn. What a kaleidoscope of harsh tokes and beautiful humanity. For what it's worth: condolences, felicitations, and thanks. You have a gift of seeing into the true thing and sharing it with others.

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