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Column: Peculiar Presence

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Kenneth B. Lourie

In the last few months, out of the blue, I have received electronic correspondence from each of my three oldest childhood friends (none of whom have remained adulthood friends, though all three remain of interest to me) commenting on my cancer diagnosis; each having stumbled across one of my cancer columns online, presumably after initiating a Google-type search for yours truly. This reconnection with my past has empowered me, sort of, to deal with the present. Feeling there are people – in other cities and states, thinking positive, supportive and encouraging thoughts about me, maybe even sending prayers my way as well, is powerful stuff. The stuff of which dreams are made, and let me tell you, when you’re terminal, you dream. The associated vibe I feel is somewhere between not being alone and anything is possible.

Not that any of the three were offering insights on fighting cancer or presuming certain familiarities which no longer exist; theirs was more a general inquiry about a specific set of circumstances (my cancer diagnosis), simply letting me know that they recently became aware of my situation and were thinking about me and wishing me well; a “random act of kindness,” if you will. And as a cancer patient, I can assure you, any thoughts of kindness, random or otherwise, are much appreciated. Certainly I corresponded back and expressed my gratitude for their having reached out to me. It was great to reconnect; these three friends were my friends at the beginning: Bowen Elementary School. Given our current ages, we’re talking 50 years ago, even before Little League. That’s heavy; heck, that’s historical.

But all three looking for me, and finding me, at the same time, seems more than just a coincidence. And it’s not as if they have any independent contact with one another, because they don’t. Nor are any of the three in touch/connected with my best friend, Cary, (who lives in Needham, Mass.) and who is my conduit of sorts for all my adolescent/pre-college friends and acquaintances, should any inquiries be made – which I welcome and are no problem for me, but that’s not what happened here. What happened here happened on its own; in Barnstable, Mass., Greenwich, Conn. and Sharon, Mass., without any communication or contact between the interested parties.

The cumulative effect – on me, as a result of this “three-for” has been sobering, and I don’t even drink. I don’t want to get existential here, but when multiple unrelated influences all of a sudden intersect, and the intersection is you, (meaning me), it does give one pause: Why me? Why now? The answer is partially, I would guess, that my situation (my less than enviable health circumstances) is fairly serious (Duh!), maybe even grave. (Although that’s more a play on words than how I actually feel). And somehow, the seriousness of my circumstances has been realized by this triumvirate of extremely important people – from my earliest days, who now have found me again, hopefully not at the end. It’s difficult – for me, to not notice the symmetry here. Sure, there’s a randomness to the universe, but there’s also a part of me that believes things happen for a reason. Then again, maybe not.

Originally I was given a “13-month to two-year” prognosis and advised by my oncologist to consider taking that vacation I always dreamed of. Yet here I am, three-plus years later, alive and reasonably well (and still not having taken that vacation). I’m not cured by any means, but neither am I a distant memory. In fact, given these three most recent inquiries, I’m a fairly current memory, and for that, I am most appreciative. Thanks for all your kind thoughts. I need every one of them.

Kenny Lourie is an Advertising Representative for The Potomac Almanac & The Connection Newspapers