This isn’t the post I intended to write. I already wrote one and sent it out into the whatever-sphere. SO, if you would be so kind, scroll down. I mean, after you read this one. We should remind ourselves occasionally, that surfers are part of a culture, if not a tribe. While we have hassles in the water and resentments out of the water, we are all, theoretically, connected in a love of the ocean.
Theoretically. Don’t mistake me for a blind purist. I am talking about real surfers. I do, and we all do, make a distinction.
Often mentioned on this site, Stephen R. Davis is not only a real surfer, but a lover of all things related to water. He surfs, kite surfs, skis, snowboards, sails, actually owns and sometimes lives on a sailboat, and, bonus, Steve plays ice hockey. My friend Steve, one of the funnest guys to hang out with, work with, share a surf trip or a surf session with, even a wave with (and I am notoriously not fond of party waves), is spending this Christmas at the University of Washington Hospital.
A nagging pain he has had for a while finally convinced Steve to get it checked out. There’s worry, no doubt, with the not knowing and the delay. He had another visit with the doctor, with tests and another appointment the next day. That was at 9am. 9:35am, plans were set in motion to get Steve to U-Dub.
That was Wednesday. There have been tests, a biopsy. Steve said he spent most of Friday taking phone calls in which he had to console people worried about him. Odd dynamic we humans have. There are a lot of people, in Steve’s case, who need to be consoled. I’m really not trying to add to that list. Steve’s doctors are telling him the condition is curable. Chemo. It’s more like, “We’ll see.” He will be in the hospital until at least Monday, with, hopefully, other hospital visits in Port Townsend rather than Seattle.
Steve’s girlfriend Sierra is over there with him now. “How’s she handling it.” “Good. Good.”
Steve says he’s optimistic. I say I am optimistic. Optimism is on a sort of sliding scale. I can be optimistic, based on positive buoy readings and history, that I will find rideable waves. Hopeful. Even if I arrive at a spot and the waves are not as hoped, maybe, with a change in tide… maybe.
Most of us have had injuries or illnesses that kept us out of the water. We have all heard of others who have had it worse. I have a sprained ankle, someone else has a broken leg. In mentioning Steve’s illness with others, I have heard about others, close to them, who have this or had that, who live with this or died from that. With plague and famine and war, cancer is the most fearsome, the grimmest of reapers.
It has taken someone from each of us. Yet, some have battled it and won. Hope, again. Sliding scale.
Another good, longtime friend of Trisha’s and mine, is down in the Sacramento area. His just-turned-110 father is in hospice. Yeah, One-hundred-and-by-god-ten-years old.
If I think about it, and I do try hard not to, there are others who come to mind. Archie, real name Atsushi Endo, who had a stroke several years ago, is still in Thailand. He has gotten back in the water. I have been a poor friend to Archie. I haven’t reached out. I am keeping his ten-foot surfboard for his return, but I did steal the fin when I broke the last one I had. I did name the main character in my novel after him.
Do I feel guilty. Yeah. I have earned it.
I did call Steve last night, Christmas Eve. Maybe I wanted him to tell me not to worry, to console me. Maybe. I do know I talked long enough that Steve had to say, “Um, Erwin; uh, I kind of have to get off the phone now, take my meds.” “Yeah, yeah, but…”
I am not trying to guilt you out. If you can’t reach out to someone, maybe just… think about them.
Anyway, one of the two new drawings featured in the next/previous posting (also from today) features a wave, a left, breaking, the sun behind it. This is, and I told Steve this, kind of a response/challenge to, or a competition with a drawing Steve was doing when we were crossing Puget Sound. Quick pencil sketch. The wave… perfectly rendered. “Steve, maybe you should add some spray off the top. I do like the way you showed the wave spitting.” “Here, you want to add to it.” “No, no, I’d never do that.”
What I would do is… scroll down, you’ll see. I want to be surfing with Steve for… years.
I almost said, ‘as long as I can stand up.’ Joke, like it’s about me. It is only in this way: We really can’t do much, if anything, to help someone else. Prayers and wishes are sent somewhere out in the whatever-sphere. Doesn’t mean they’re wasted. It could be a case of, with a change in the tide… maybe.
Console, be consoled. Consolation. Peace.