Thursday, January 31, 2013

Surly Bonds of Earth




Try as I might, I can't stop the only mental picture I have of my good friend David who slipped the surly bonds on Wednesday night.

It's not a good image. It's an image of him curled around a cigarette, outside buildings, on porches, sliding into his car. Banished to the outside of life, white stick in hand, smoke curling around his yellow face. Always standing at a distance, sucking in lungfuls of carcinogens. His hugs had the deep, invasive pall of nicotine. Enough to make one gag, enough to make one cough to cover up the gag. His skin showed it. His clothes wept it. His death exalts it to a sacrament.

Another good friend said to me one time after we both quit the evil weed. "Past forty, if one continues to smoke, one begins to look like a cigarette." I have to agree. David, along with many other good friends who continued on puffing, looked like a cigarette.

"Begone," I would scream at my not insignificant habit, "You effing white little tube, you do NOT own me anymore." This, along with other mantras and behaviour changes helped me kick it to the curb. Twenty five years ago now. I was seeing too much death from it then. Still do.

I didn't sleep last night. Too much leakage out of the memory bank. Too much what ifs.

If you're a smoker out there, stop. Stop! If I can, with my forty-a-day habit, anyone can.

His death was agony.

Chalk another one up to Rothman's.

23 comments:

  1. For most of my father's life, he smoked 40-60 Sweet Afton a day, he did move to Afton Major the tipped variety, but added to all his other complications he had emphysema and his gasping for breath still haunts me thirty two years later. His death was slow and horrible and painful for all the family.

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  2. Weird coincidence, it’s 25 years for me too since I freed myself from the nasty habit. 30 - 40 a day, stinking, coughing, spitting, with permanent head colds and bronchial chests, that was me.

    My daughter swore at me, my house reeked, my curtains were yellow. I was short of money but spent it on fags.

    I still have nightmares that somebody forces me to smoke again.

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  3. GM:
    He probably saved you from smoking. Seeing the totally unsophisticated side of it far from the ads that made it look so cool.
    Other friends choked to death on emphysema, what disturbing pictures these are in my head. Much like you.
    XO
    WWW

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  4. Me too Friko, I wake up in with my heart palpitating in a sweat.

    Congrats to you too.

    It ain't easy but so worth it.

    XO
    WWW

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  5. I am so very sorry to hear of the death of your friend. I know the agony, having watched a much-loved family friend die of emphysema and another - a good friend of my mother-in-law's - die of lung cancer. No fun at all.

    My husband had a DVT a few years back. I told him he should stop smoking, but he didn't. Now he's being investigated for a heart problem and he's hearing the wake-up call. He's quitting using a drug he calls his 'nausea pill'. I think it's called Champix. It seems to be working, I'm thankful to say, because I dread losing him too early.

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  6. My mother died of lung cancer, which doesn't stop two of my children from puffing like chimneys. Breaks your heart to see people indulge in such self destructive behaviour. So sorry you lost your friend to that filthy weed.

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  7. ...Oops. Forgot to say there's a challenge over by me for you....Though it seems to be going over, so far, like a lead balloon...unless people are furiously writing! But I'd dearly love to see your version at least.

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  8. Jay:

    I am so glad your husband is stopping in time. It is a sad, sad thing to die so young and so ignobly!

    XO
    WWW

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  9. Molly:

    Oh this strikes you close to the heart indeed. My father quit when he got a hernia from coughing, it had to be heard to be believed. I was 11 then and totally stunned at the amount of Fox's Glacier Mints he had to ingest (bought by the large TIN) he would consume.

    I now understand.

    Too bad about your kids.

    XO
    WWW

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  10. Molly:

    I left a comment at your blog.

    XO
    WWW

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  11. I feel sad for your friend, you, and his family, WWW.

    My father and mother both paid the price of smoking for most of their lives - Dad's hardened arteries led to a series of strokes, and death. My mother, though she'd stopped maybe 10 years before, still found she had lung cancer, spread to the brain in her early 80s.

    A friend, lifelong smoker apart from in his last few years, succumbed to lung cancer and died 5 years ago this week- Dreadful dreadful deaths, all 3.

    Sad thing, was when they all began smoking it wasn't known to be any great danger, and by the time its dangers were fully understood - they were hooked.
    I guess it's a little bit the same as global warming and co2 etc. We didn't know in the beginning - then it was too late.

    I smoked, but not heavily, from for around 25 years, then stopped - I hope in time. :-)

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  12. You can't stop people from their addiction by becoming mad at them. It only makes them feel like more of an outcast and that will not help them quit. In fact, it will make them stubbornly hang on to their habit. A bit of compassion would be more helpful. It is an addiction after all.

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  13. T:
    How sad for you and your parents and friend. Such painful deaths.

    I've seen far, far too many.

    But again, I see so many who have quit and lived healthful lives after.

    There is hope.

    XO
    WWW

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  14. I've never become mad at addiction, Irene.

    Frustrated perhaps. But never mad.

    I am an addict myself so hopefully I have compassion and understanding.

    Having said that, I hate being around smoke now. They say those of us who have been smokers have increased sensitivity. I believe so.

    I loved David but despised his addiction.

    I am so happy you are ex-smoker yourself!

    XO
    WWW

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  15. Oh my
    the what if's
    and memories
    I do not like
    and they make regular visits.
    So thankful
    never a smoker or any of my children.
    My mother was - and on oxygen
    at the end of her life..

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  16. My father used to smoke around 15 cigarettes a day. When he had a stroke at the age of 55, he gave up instantly. He had colossal will power when he chose to use it. I don't under-estimate the difficulty of giving up, it's a very powerful addiction.

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  17. Nick they say it's worse than heroin because of the number of hits the brain and body get every day.

    I can attest to that. When I quit I remember Day 5 banging my forehead off my bedroom wall until it bled.

    It distracted me!!

    XO
    WWW

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  18. OWJ

    Smoking never has a happy ending, Ernestine.

    It has many ways to make piecemeal of the body.

    It always wins.

    XO
    WWW

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  19. My father was a heavy smoker, quit around age 60, had a plastic aorta that gave out suddenly when he was playing bridge with his friends. Died in five minutes at age 82. He was lucky, as these things go.
    I smoked for ten years but quit when I got pregnant.
    We have four friends who can't quit. They get that grey look and the slightly alarmed expression from the effort to breathe. One has managed to stay fat in the abdomen, but her arms and legs have wasted away. One other friend has legs like matchsticks, though he is otherwise a handsome man.
    If only people would understand what smoking does to your looks as you age, that might be enough to stop many.
    My brother in law is on his way out, and it is very ugly. He started smoking at age 14 and is now in his late 70's. Probably smoking did stunt his growth. He must have some genetics, because he is also an alcoholic. He has not really been functional for years, however, but just kind of exists. And he looks like a troll.
    Remember that old poster of a crapped out person with the caption, "Smoking is very glamorous?"
    Oh, and I just remembered. from my days working on a cancer ward, a man who smoked Gauloises through his trache. We used to call him "The Sophisticated gent." That was in my mean young days.
    Now I just regard smokers as victims.

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  20. Yes there are millions of such stories in the smoking city, ahem. All ugly.

    No happy endings.

    I think Michael Moore one time had had a choir of people without voiceboxes from smoking?? Faint memory.

    Really drove the point home.

    I feel nothing but compassion for such unfortunates.

    XO
    WWW

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  21. Asad post but something that needs to be said at times .When i was in my fifties I lost five friends to cancer that was caused by smoking.
    The big thing in my favour recently was that I never smoked.

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  22. GFB:

    Lucky you not to pick it up. I am so happy that with my 25+years off that I now have the lungs of a lifelong non-smoker. At least so they say.

    XO
    WWW

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