Our beloved poet laureate ulookarmless, known to most of us as CJ, is in that thin space between life and death where anything can happen. I was out this morning, and came home to find an email from one of CJ's sons:
I'm CJ's son [name redacted]. He has been in the hospital for the last few days with a rare infection similar to pneumonia. I'm sitting next to him and he asked me to reach out to you. We are not sure if he will make it through this hospitalization but he is fighting his hardest and his spirit is strong.This is shocking news. In spite of all his health problems, CJ has been feeling better and, in fact, was about to resume moderating KosAbility on Wednesdays. In my reply to his son, I asked him to read CJ this message:
I love you, CJ. I don't want to lose you, but your son touched on that possibility, so know this: here or the other side, I will find you. I want whatever you want for yourself, my Darling. If you're too tired to go on, go with my blessing. If you want to stay, if your life is still fun and enjoyable, then fight with everything you have. I will hang on to your hand until you let go.We all have different belief systems. Please, my friends, use whatever you believe in, be it prayer or healing energy or good thoughts, and send what you have to CJ. This diary is for him, so please address your comments to ulookarmless. ♥
1:40 PM PT: CJ's son is reading your comments to him: "Thanks for this Kelley. Just read him all the messages. Really touching to see the outpour of well wishes. Cant tell you how good this made him feel. I can see why he speaks so highly of this group. Talk soon."
2:13 PM PT: Keep those comments coming! New email from the hospital: "Wow. This is surreal. I'm reading comments to him in real time and showing him the images people are sending. These messages are giving us both strength. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
A MESSAGE TO DAILY KOS FROM CJ'S SON:
Hi Kelley - I started writing this when I got home to Los Angeles. It wasn't meant to go to anyone but I just thought it would make me feel better. About half way through I got your last email and thought you were the perfect person to share this with. I'm not sure if ALL of it is appropriate for your blog but I will leave that decision to you. You can share any portions that you like. It's a short synopsis of where I've been and where I'm at. Perhaps a bit long winded...but I am my father's son...I didn't edit a thing.
About 8 years ago my father was diagnosed with cancer and had his arm amputated. At the same time he separated from his wife, and in turn, his 8 year old son. I was not raised by my father so we never had the typical father/son relationship that one might expect. But at the time of his illness, I was the only one around to help. It was important for me to set a good example for my younger brother, so from that point I started seeing him regularly. Roughly estimating I would say I would visit him in Ventura around once a month.
As a 23 year old living in Los Angeles, and just starting my career, I wasn't always over exuberant to go see my father. In fact, I often got angry or felt bitter that this burden befell me. I would talk to my friends who were going to pool parties and BBQs and wonder why I had to drive an hour away to go spend time caring for a sick man who left when I was just a baby. We had our routine when I would get there. I would take him and my brother to a decent lunch and then do our rounds of grocery shopping. When we got back to his place, I would hang with my brother for a bit while my dad showed us all the paintings and drawings that he had made since I last saw him (typically 20 - 30 pieces). After all that, I would head back for LA, relieved that I didn't have to drive back out for another few weeks.
Reflecting on all this, maybe his illness was the best thing that ever happened to us. In the last 8 years, I inadvertently learned who my father was. I learned the good and the bad...the compassion, humor, strength, stubbornness and temper. I learned who I wanted to be as a son, as a brother, as a father and as a man. Most importantly, I formed a bond with both my father and my brother. A bond that I'm certain would never have existed otherwise.
Another positive outcome of his illness is his involvement with the DailyKos. He would tell me about it all the time and I would shrug it off as something he dabbled in just to keep himself busy. Every now and then I would visit the site and read an entry, but never made it a habit to stay engaged. My interaction with Kelley today and the DailyKos message board has been nothing short of phenomenal. The outcry of love and warmth have overwhelmed me and brought about a restored energy and faith in life and human compassion. My dad was a lot of things to a lot of people, but this is truly a version that I (embarrassingly) did not know enough about. I read out loud the 1st 50 comments to him in the hospital today before I had to head back to Los Angeles...perhaps those comments meant as much to me as they did to him. The second I got home I opened the page and read the rest. I've sent the link to his childhood friend who will be taking a flight out from Florida tomorrow just to come see him. I will be at a wedding in SF tomorrow so maybe his friend will read him some more of the entries. They truly are inspiring. I've also sent the link to my brother, 2 sisters and a couple other people who are close to him, for if I underestimated the impact of this community, the others are completely in the dark. I will make sure that he sees or hears every comment on that board. The love and support are just too powerful to dismiss.
I probably won't see him again until Monday and I pray that he is able to fight until then. He seems to be at peace and whatever happens will be on his terms. I've never felt closer to my father than I do today. I see how he interacts with his nurses and doctors and am proud to be his son. I read the comments on DailyKos and am hopeful for the future.
Again...a million times...thank you.