January 16, 2011
The email came through over my phone as I was driving home from an assignment Wednesday night. Logan was dead.
I pulled the car over to the side of the road and sat there for a few minutes.
Logan was just 20, the son of a good friend from a lifetime ago, one of those friends you keep, and feel close to, even if you rarely ever see them.
David and I became friends while we were both at the University of Georgia, back in the 70s. He studied marketing and communications. I didn’t really study much of anything. We had a lot of good times together, and what bad times there might have been never mattered.
David and Logan came and visited us in Gettysburg six years ago. Logan was 14, and had taken an interest in the Amish, and the trip gave the two of them some quality father-and-son time on the long drive north from Atlanta.
The four of us piled into my van and were off to the back roads of Lancaster County. We tried to avoid the touristy places. We had a great time. Somewhere, I have photos. It was a good enough time that I realized what I had missed, never raising a son.
Logan went to military school, then high school and started college. He was a member of the swim and lacrosse teams and coached another swim team. He was also a wrestler. His Facebook page shows him, fit and buff, in high-energy hijinks with lots of friends, and being cozied up to by an enviable number of attractive young women.
And then, about a year and a half ago, Logan wasn’t feeling well. He went into the hospital for some tests. The diagnosis was leukemia.
Logan and his family fought the disease like Apaches, relentlessly seeking blood and marrow donors, doing everything they could. I think it was almost enough.
On Logan’s Facebook page is one photo very different from the others. He is standing outside, holding the German shepherd puppy he got in October, when the docs told him that his cancer was gone. He looked like a concentration camp survivor. I kept flicking from that photo to the earlier ones, unbelieving. Surely that’s not the same person?
But it was, and he was cancer-free and on his way to recovery, even beginning to eat solid food.
And then, five days before Christmas, Logan and his family learned that the cancer was back. This time, there were no more treatment options. Everything that could have been done had been done. Logan went home to his mother’s house.
The docs said he had days, months at the most.
David said that when the leukemia came back, “It was almost as if it was pissed off.” It charged in full bore, ravaging Logan’s already weakened defenses. Tuesday night, it ended.
I sat there in my car, traffic hissing by on the wet highway, looking at my cell phone as though it might offer helpful suggestions. I spent 25 years as a reporter, calling families and friends of people who had died from long battles with terrible diseases, from injuries received in crashes, some of them on that very highway, or had died from gunshots and knife wounds. It’s something reporters have to do. They don’t like it, but they do it. It’s part of the job.
And here I couldn’t call one of my oldest friends and talk about the death of his son. This wasn’t an effort to flesh out a name in a police report or an obituary. This was somebody I knew, who was going through something that words really don’t cover. Words are what I do for a living, and yet I found none to use.
I dialed the number anyway. Dave picked up.
“Dave? It’s Terry,” I said. “I just got your email…”
Frankly, I don’t remember what I said, and I wouldn’t share the words if I did. It was personal, in a way few other things are. I hope the words conveyed what I felt, at least a little. There are some things that words just can’t accomplish.
I remember in one of my favorite episodes of “The West Wing,” after the senseless death of Pres. Bartlett’s beloved friend and personal secretary. Bartlett asked to be left alone in the cathedral, and spent a few minutes blaspheming and giving God hell, and called him a “feckless thug.”
It’s one of the things I have always envied in believers, that occasionally they can bristle and fume and the one in charge. I don’t have anybody at which to curse. But I can definitely be angry.
NOTE: Should you be so inclined, contributions can be sent to the Atlanta Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at www.lls.org or call 1-800-399-7312. Logan also requested that his friends register to be bone marrow donors at the Be The Match Registry at www.bethematch.org or call 1-800-Marrow-2.
© 2011 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.
Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.
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