"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My friend Bill

Bill is one of my heroes and a great mentor. It's probably all his fault that I got a Legal Services job right out of law school (and if you're wondering what I mean by that, I'll just say that the feelings of gratitude far outweigh any feelings of blame). He has been doing this work for thirty-something years and still always seems full of compassion and enthusiasm. He is a creative and extensive thinker. Known for going off on tangents and having a rather messy office. Known for his ability to quote entire Monty Python skits. Sometime last year he was diagnosed with a non-malignant brain tumor. I think he was having horrible headaches and perhaps other problems, but he works in our main offices 90 miles away and I don't have a good sense of how he has been affected day to day. When I've seen him in the last several months I wouldn't have been able to tell anything was wrong. He's the one who made it possible for me and a co-worker to go to a conference in New Orleans last March, where he was presenting at one of the sessions, and he went out on the town with us and treated everybody (who dared) to a round of Absinthe in the French Quarter.

He's having surgery to remove the tumor tomorrow. Apparently it's quite deep in there and nobody knows to what extent his functioning will be impaired when he wakes up, or for how long. He says he's in great spirits because friends and family and colleagues have been showering him with love and appreciation. This is a very scary thing. I can't imagine how his wife and son must be feeling. His last pre-surgery post today reminded me of a famous line from Moby Dick that I know he'd appreciate: "I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing"--Stubb.

4 comments:

adam said...

I love hearing about people like Bill. Thanks for sharing that. :) Nice quote as well. I hope his surgery works out well.

Emily said...

Thursday night update: Surgery went really well, the surgeon was able to get all of the tumor out, and he's in ICU recovery.

M.A said...

adam, i concur. i hope things are going smoothly for bill!

George and WP said...

Me too! Glad to hear it went OK. Just brings to mind that conundrum of why bad things happen to good people... Our prayers and thoughts go to your friend and his family,