A long distance bromance

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, May 16, 2018 10:16 PM

Kevin’s friend Tony died on May 5. 5/5 at 5:55 according to his fiancé. He had been sick for a long time with an illness that some of the best doctors’ in the country couldn’t seem to diagnose. At first they thought it was complication from a shoulder surgery. Then they moved onto something call Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, or CRPS. CRPS is a form of chronic pain that usually affects an arm or a leg. It’s very uncommon and often develops after an injury, a surgery, a stroke or a heart attack. Tony’s symptoms started not long after his surgery. His hand swelled, and he had trouble using it. It traveled up is arm. 

This went on for several years. He tried ketamine treatments, he tried some sort of spinal treatment, he tried shocking his system but nothing worked, and meanwhile, he continued to deteriorate. Eventually the entire right side of his body was affected. He lost his hearing. He started having trouble walking. Still, those best doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. He sold his townhouse on the beach and moved in with his longtime girlfriend in Orange County. He lost his ability to stand and walk. He couldn’t speak on the phone or even respond to emails. His whole body was becoming useless. 

Kevin officially met Tony back in 1985 when Kevin started working for Sebastian. Kevin was still in Chicago at the time and Tony was in Southern California. He worked in finance but they spoke on the phone about the Sales and Marketing job that Kevin was interviewing for and what it entailed and hit it off without ever having met.

The other night I asked Kevin about Tony. He hadn’t said much since we got the word that he was gone. I also knew that Kevin had long considered Tony one of his best friends. When he and his first wife were dissolving their relationship, Tony was there. When Kevin had issues with a company he was working for (after Sebastian), Tony was there. Whenever the Auto Show parked itself at the convention center, Tony was there, along with his good friend, Kevin. One year, Kevin took Justin and the three of them had a great time.

They would go for a while without speaking, but then they’d reconnect and it was as if no time had gone by. The truest sign of a great friendship. Once Tony could no longer talk on the phone or even answer emails, it was harder. Our lives continued as always, as usual, while his deteriorated.

Then came the phone call. “Tony’s in the hospital and not expected to make it through the weekend.” He did. He lasted another week. He had finally been diagnosed correctly, with Corticobasal Degeneration, a progressive neurological disorder where the brain shrinks and impedes its ability to communicate with the rest of the body. It’s progressive. And fatal. There is no treatment.

When I asked, Kevin was quiet at first. He sipped his wine and stared ahead into nothing. Then he started to talk and continued to talk for over an hour. I asked questions where appropriate, but mostly I just listened to him tell me about his good friend, a man he’d met some 30 plus years ago on the phone, and their long distance friendship. 

Their long distance bromance that became something infinitely more lasting, something that bridges even this permanent distance.

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