To quote some POTUS or other--not certain which one, but pretty sure it was neither Franklin Pierce nor Chester Arthur--I feel your pain, Matthew.
(And go ahead and move on right here, all you various "too long; didn't read" readers.)
Matthew, your friend's sad problem is obvious, but YOURS, I'm afraid is less so: you're just GETTING OLD. (Just like ME, now, against all odds, having reached 66). And it's more than "just getting" in my case, of course. Point is, brace for MORE rather than fewer of these ungodly circumstances as you approach seriously-old age.
Accordingly, I've had several pals over the last half-decade or so confronted with similar health predicaments, and it inevitably makes fellows like you and me wonder, "Why are all these good folks getting dreaded news from their docs, while so far I've avoided similar rendezvouses with reality?" Key phrase there, of course, being "so far".
Like you Mathew, I also keep in touch with a few pals from college, high school, middle school, and even one from kindergarten in 1960. And, now, way too many of them have no shot at witnessing with me the Monday, April 8, 2024 total eclipse of the sun I've been counting down the days to* ever since the glorious 2017 [TSE] Eclipse Across America.
I reported here in alt.obits what follows below, a day or after it happened in the Autumn 2020, but it bears repeating to y'all:
It so happens I talked to Rush Limbaugh about this on the final one (of my half-dozen or so calls that made air since 1996) into and onto the air of The Excellence in Broadcasting Network, detailing to Rush how, during my week-long road trip to witness the Monday 8/21/2017 TSE passing over the Rush hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, I ALSO made it.a point to find the Girardeau gravesites of both Rush Hudson Limbaugh I and Rush Hudson Limbaugh II. (They are in separate cemeteries, his father laid next to his mom Millie in the larger of the two.) At that point I fully expected the ailing Rush III to respond with, "Bryan, it's quite thoughtful of you, as a longtime EIB fan, seek out my family's gravesites", or some such boilerplate verbiage, ESPECIALLY since I had told him that finding grandfather Rush the First turned out to be a two-hour side-project, WAY tougher than my having quickly located his parents in a boneyard across town, as no local I buttonholed at first (and there were a bunch) knew where the still-practicing-law-at-101-and-expired-at-104 grandfather was entombed.
But Rush didn't waste valuable EIB airtime on such an obligatory nicety (which pretty much EVERY, [FARRRRR-]lesser commercial newstalk so-called "talent" like Dennis Prager, Glenn Beck, Mike Gallagher or even Mark Levin would have doled out by lazy, and mindless if appreciative newstalk-radio rote). But this was Rush, the man whom, even if I were to the left of Trotsky, I would STILL recognize as having the most acute broadcaster's instincts going all the way back to Marconi. Rush INSTEAD (like ALWAYS) kept his eye on the talk-radio ball, and thus interrupted me with THIS: "Wait a second, Bryan--what's someone like you, who doesn't believe in G-d or the afterlife, doin' hanging around CEMETERIES?"
"Well, Rush, I'm [intellectually] interested in eternity" was how I immediately swung to swat that verbal curveball. You see, Matthew, what prompted his astute interruption was my OPENING remarks that day, which were in turn my reaction to a Ron Reagan video promo boosting atheism that the DNC aired during one of the Democrat debates the night prior. (I did parenthetically point out for his audience's benefit that, unlike Rush, Ronald Prescott Reagan isn't in fact "Ronald Reagan Jr." because his middle name isn't Wilson like his dad's so was famously was.
But Matthew, I DIDN'T also toss in mention one of the proudest aspects of my little professional radio career [1982-2013 with several sizable gaps]--that for a year during my KIRO/Seattle run 2005-2008, presidential son Ron Reagan the midday KIRO host shared the SAME studio and microphone I used for four hours on overnights, then six nights/week...not to MENTION a mic ALSO formerly used at 710 kHz [back in 1947] by a young KIRO newsman named Chet Huntley!) No, for maybe the first time in my 66 years, I didn't just keep bragging. INSTEAD I explained to Rush in answer to his question, that even though I had converted to Judaism in Chicago in 1999--through a rabbi of the Society for Humanistic Judaism--a lesser-known Judaism movement in counterpoint to Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, et al., consisting mostly of ardent atheists--and 24/7 wear a silver Star of David around my neck, that still I am nonetheless what is properly described as a "militant agnostic".
Rush THEN asked me to dylanea--I mean DELINEATE!--said difference for the EIB audience. So I described how, properly understood in contrast to atheism, agnosticism isn't merely some vague theological fence-sitting doctrine, but rather affirmatively asserts that nature [here on earth, in particular] and the universe [out there in the cosmos, in general] seems to be set up in such a fashion so that it is physically and even LOGICALLY impossible to establish whether any conscious, all-controlling force (typically called or referred to as "G-d") in fact exists or NOT.
Now, Matthew, I COULD have ALSO just then cited Kurt Godel's remarkably profound Second Incompleteness Theorem [which as a THEOREM is BY DEFINITION something mathematically PROVED for all time, not merely posited] as an example of arguably VERY strong (if still quite indirect) evidence that the atheists ARE indeed correct, just as I have for decades now suspected (and feared). But I didn't let the fact that I was improvising to the largest audience in commercial newstalk history [as EIB numbers routinely confirmed since a year or so after the August 1988 EIB debut] intimidate me, or even the fact that this was all-but-certainly my final Rush contribution. Ergo, I was able to prudently gauge that even the vaunted EIB network was too mainstream a media platform upon which to be citing (much less outlining) Godel's arcane and amazing but advanced mathematical achievement.
So instead, I then told Rush, "And the real frustrating aspect of my particular position--which is that I strongly suspect all the INdirect evidence suggests the atheists are correct but thanks to that universe-wide principle, but that I will NEVER confirm this...meaning that EVEN IF I"M CORRECT, I'll never get the SATISFACTION of finding out I was right!"
Now THAT'S of course because (I also could have added for Rush but didn't), after the death process is complete--in, say, a mere millisecond should one of Wile E. Coyote's mail-ordered Acme Corp. anvils flatten me instead of the vanishing-point Roadrunner, or even after MANY seconds as I'm, say, quickly bleeding to death after some ghetto guy (yet an aspiring and promising young rapper to boot!) just emptied his waist-band-secured 9 mm Glock into my abdomen, annoyed by some punchline I just delivered in a supermarket checkout line--THAT IS, once I'm not merely DYING but DEAD (and my shutting-down mind has thus finished conjuring for my brain those out-of-body hallucinations we read regularly read from all those I-was-dead-for-25-minutes-on-the-operating-table! authors), well, THEN it's just game-over's-ville.
But while mentally digesting my will-never-learn-I'm-right musing, Rush paused for MORE than a moment, and then oh-so-aptly responded, "Well, there is THAT...." (while ALSO lesser-stressing his "is".).
So anyway, to wrap up with some finesse what of course I then figured would turn out to be my final EIB call, I told Rush how much I was enthralled by the two TSE's I've thus far witnessed (Thursday 7/11/1991 in Caba San Lucas, Mexico right there on the "Tropic of Skin Cancer", and then the celebrated 2017 Eclipse Across America [for which I ended up having to drive east to central Kentucky, as Missouri was mostly clouded over that day]. And only THEN tacked on my carefully-scripted coda: "And SO, Rush, I look forward to seeing YOU in person AGAIN**, but THIS time [after you jet into southeast Missouri on EIB One] in your hometown of Cape Girardeau for the next American TSE, to witness it from your parents' gravesite on Monday, April 8, 2024!"
The stage-4 cancer-patient Rush DID sound a might touched after THAT, I'm proud to recount. And then Rush even continued to discuss my EIB swan song call for ANOTHER minute or so after I was off, starting with, "Now this call [from Bryan in the Tampa Bay Area] was CLASSIC...", as he proceeded to verbally FURTHER riff--as only he in all of call-in radio history could--on the disbelief issue.
But Matthew, as you and everyone well knows, even if I survive to witness my third TSE in my home state of Missouri in April 2024, Rush will, quite tragically for commercial newstalk radio history, NOT be there too, with me or anyone else. And a question I STILL don't know the answer to is this one: Why did the greatest talent in the history of radio elect to be buried in St. Louis, a city he never lived in OR broadcasted to locally? (Now, I AM an insufferable egomaniac--for sure, THAT much is painfully obvious to all who know, read or even just listen to me--but even that wacky Styble fellow doesn't wonder if the late Rush III chose to be buried about three miles northwest of The Gateway Arch merely because the 1904 World's Fair site (AND third [modern] Olympics host city!) is also THIS particular Rush-wannabe's hometown.)
Anyway, Mathew, good LUCK to you dealing with your pal's unfortunate ordeal, and good HEALTH to you whilst you're surely doing whatever you can to ease your friend's surely mounting mental (and too probably also excruciating physical) anguish.
* A mere 973 days distant as of today.
** The FIRST was my impromptu mini-debate with him, in spectacular downtown San Francisco: RHL III was the totally-surprise guest-star on an industry-pros panel during the Friday, September 13, 1991 newstalk-format forum at that year's big NAB broadcasting convention. Five years later in January 1996, when making EIB air (for the first of my half-dozen or so EIB calls over the decades), I had called in to update him on what happened in the wake of my oh-so-lucky Friday the 13th.
[[ INFELICITIOUS REMINDER INSERT TO DOUBLE-ASTERISK FOOTNOTE: there's ANOTHER one THIS very Friday, THIS one not merely the only in 2021 (and my 116th since 1954), but ALSO happening to fall on August 13th aka International Left-Handers Day 2021, so all you fellow southpaws, be sure to schedule yourselves something memorably left-handed to do that day, as I do every August. ]]
Anyway, our somewhat-heated exchange back at the 1991 NAB confab in the Bay Area was something Rush remembered instantly after I began with, "You may not recall this, Rush, but five years ago you and I discussed some talk radio syndication issues out in San Francisco at the Moscone Center--". He stopped "Bryan in Detroit" right there, bellowingly interrupting with, "Oh, I remember YOU--you were the guy complaining I was putting all you local hosts out of work!...". The two of us were yakking this out before several hundred commercial newstalk radio program directors convened in a subterranean ballroom at the Moscone. As I've previously detailed for y'all, that three-minute exchange I capped off by declaring, "I understand well and even agree with much of your argument, Rush, but I still think [as a syndicated talent on 600-odd stations] you risk being [dismissed by unenlightened listeners as] "a CARPET-BAGGING BROADCASTER!"
My emphatic finishing-flourish (which quite loudly stirred the crowd) may have been what specifically prompted a line from MC Daria Dolan [the still-surviving spouse of the veteran talk-radio financial gurus The Dolans (her less-talkative and rather-milquetoast husband Ken sadly succumbing to cancer on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, also the day former First Lady Barbara Bush died). Madame Dolan declared to the jam-packed hall: "Somebody should hire that guy--he knows how to handle a microphone!".
Thusly my then-somewhat-stalled call-in radio hosting career was jump-started, as five PDs approached me amid the throng with their business cards, three with serious offers on the spot [two in Northern California and one WAAAAAAAY over on the tree-snake-infested U.S. Territory of Guam...but hey, at least it was the only talk-formatted station on the entire island].
That glorious afternoon not only changed my career and of course entire life trajectory, but then [getting back to my 1996 phone-in], after FORMALLY thanking Rush, the undisputed AM radio king finished his first call from me in sterling fashion as only a PRIMO commercial newstalk talent would. My thank-you call, not incidentally, originated from suburban Motown in the middle hour of his Friday, January 30, 1996 broadcast, was while I was still employed by WJR/Detroit (if only by then in diminished capacity as an announcer/producer/engineer once "Open Lines for Open Minds with Bryan Styble" was cancelled after its three-year run in favor of Art Bell's ever-preposterous syndicated pseudoscience silliness).
But by the time of my January 1996 public thanks over the EIB, I was already soon heading up to suburban WPON/Pontiac for "The Pontiac Insomniac with Bryan Styble", a small-station weeknight midnight show I did for a couple years before climbing (and clawing) back into the talk radio big leagues for four years on the airwaves of Albuquerque and then Seattle at the outset of the 21st Century (after two years at the end of the 20th off the radio airwaves but in Chicago TV, sidetracked as a local news producer for WLS/7, WGN/9 and then FOX/32). But Rush WOULDN'T accept my absolutely-heartfelt public thanks--rather, the hands-down, most artful radio yakker EVER just quite modestly deferred ALL the credit, INSTEAD humbly responding, "No, Bryan , I'm sure whatever success you've had in radio is entirely due to your own talent."