Burl called. He knew I would want to know. Less than an hour later, on a beautiful Sunday morning, I walked into his hospital room unannounced. As I came into focus, Lew’s glee was hard to disguise. He didn’t even try to hide his happiness. We would be alone for the time we needed.
We were not 17 anymore, but we could have been. I bit my lip to keep from crying. I wiped away his sweet tears that flowed freely, especially when he spoke of his darling mother. He dreaded hurting her. Not being here longer for her.
We were no longer each other’s first date at Howard University. So much time had passed. I bent down to kiss him, purposely angling to catch the edge of his sweet smile. It worked.
Lew and I had never been out of one another’s lives for long. I have this memory of him finding me long before it was easy. My vision of the thick White Pages on his lap, him searching, dialing, crossing off every Mc Gaha as he went in search of me. He found me. That was Lew.
Together now, we searched for comforting words between us. He remained funny and uplifted, overly interested in my well-being, despite his circumstance.
Most of what we talked about will remain ours. But I do know how we ended. He said, “LD I do not know how to die of cancer.” As I stared into his eyes, I took him by his frail hand and whispered, “It is okay my dear friend, because I do not know how to say goodbye to you dying of cancer. So just for today, let’s just say you are living with cancer.”
Two weeks later at about the same hour I was with him, Lew succumb to the cancer that riddled him. And now I must learn to live for both of us.
I love you my friend. Go easy on the ladies up there. See you when I get there. I know just where to find you.