I just found out the other day that a climbing buddy of mine has a deadly disease.  I didn’t know what to say, except that they would always be my friend no matter what, and I meant that.  No matter what happens, I’ll be there for them.  My mind reeled in shock the rest of the day, into the night, and through to the next morning over this news.  My friend is dying.  They’re one of those exceptional people whose love and kindness is extended warmly to all around them and they are a gentle soul.  My buddy is also an outgoing soul, who has travelled, who has seen so many worlds within our own world…  How could this happen?  I never wanted to lose a friend this way.  Not to this.  Disease is a cruel killer.  It tortures you before it kills you, both mentally and physically.  I’ve been at the sides of other friends’ deathbeds, holding their hands as they took their last breaths, assuring them that it was all okay and that they could rest now…  And when they were gone, I turned away, and never looked again because I wanted to remember them as they were – vibrant, alive, and smiling.  I’ve never lost a climbing buddy to it, though.  This feels different.  This feels like losing a buddy in the military, in a firefight or a bombing, except in slow motion.  Like radiation poisoning.  They don’t die right away.  It takes time.  So I find this to be a hybridization of the disease process and the camaraderie of a friendship forged by blood, sweat, and tears, both of joy and of sorrow, and laughter – smiles, fist bumps, and rope burn…  I don’t know how to deal with this.  I did my grieving the last few days, and now I just want to climb with my buddy until they can’t climb anymore!  I just want to get out on the crags with them and send some routes!  I want to celebrate my buddy’s life with more experiences of life while they have time!!!

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