Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Friendship Cut Short

Time as I've known it
Doesn't take much time to pass by me
Minutes into days
Turn into months
Turn into years
They hurry by me

I was cleaning out a drawer full of pictures and I came across an envelope with several pictures inside. The pictures were of Tod Morris and my husband, just a few weeks before Tod's life ended.

As I gazed at the pictures, I started getting some flashbacks of memories. Tod was my husband's buddy, a big guy with a huge smile and a distinctive laugh. As deaf as we were, we could pick out Tod's laugh in a room full of people. He had a gutteral laugh, a series of "heh, heh, heh, heh" that would make you chuckle in response. Whenever someone would describe Tod to another person, they never failed to imitate his laugh using signs and facial expressions.

I met Tod when I was just learning to sign. I had just become profoundly deaf the summer before and was easily intimidated by my husband's friends that first year. My husband's friend Mike, also a buddy of Tod's, was a speed demon with his mouth as well as his signing. Occasionally, Joe and Tod would interpret what Mike was saying/signing so that I could keep up.

Every Christmas break, Tod would hang out at Joe's house and we would watch movies together. An athlete who was always in motion, Tod would poke at my stomach and berate me to do sit-ups. "Don't you want to have a flat stomach like my girlfriend?" he would tease. I would just roll my eyes at him and suck in my stomach.

One year, we had gotten a video camera for Christmas. Kent, another friend of my husband's was in town and the three of them started clowning around for the camera. We ended up with an impromptu "Don't Do Drugs" commercial, with Tod providing the hilarious laughs.

As the years sailed by, we shared weddings and new additions to our families. Tod lived in St. Louis and we occasionally spent time together whenever they would travel to Michigan and Illinois to see his family.

Dreams full of promises
Hopes for the future
I've had many

Dreams I can't remember now
Hopes that I've forgotten
Faded memories

Then one day, we received a message from Cathy, his wife. "Tod has cancer. He only has a couple of months to live."

Tod had felt a lump in his neck early that summer. He was diagnosed with cancer in December of 2001. So early in 2002, we started making plans to head down to St. Louis to spend some time with Tod. His sister flew in from California and a bunch of us drove down. It was a magical weekend of memories and enjoying the time together. We played poker and reminisced about good times. Around midnight, we stood around looking outside. The snow had fallen and the moon was out. The trees glistened and everything had a surreal glow.

(From left to right: Tod's sister, Kristy, Mark, Joe, Mike, Ron and Tod)

Still I love to see the sun go down
And the world go around
I love to see the morning as it steals across the sky
I love to remember
And I love to wonder why

The next morning, we all went for breakfast at the local Denny's with a couple of St. Louis locals. We laughed, we chatted and connected. Little did we know that time was truly running out.

The next day, Tod went into the hospital. He received some terrible news.

He had just a month left.

We had talked about going to Disney World together, but we dashed those plans. Tod was too sick. Joe and I drove down for a final day with Tod at the end of February. It was a heartbreaking visit. On March 4, 2002 Tod passed away, just a few days shy of his birthday. His daughter Emily was three and his son Jason was just a few months old.

Today, Cathy, Emily and Jason are doing well and still living in St. Louis.

Tod Morris Memorial

(The quoted song is "Around and Around" by John Denver. The above picture was taken by one of Tod's friends. Tod loved to be on the water and he loved to fish.)


Lori K. said...

Beautiful Karen. Just beautiful. I was just thinking of Tod the other day.

Kris said...

What a sad story. At least he spent much of his time here laughing. And he had good friends like you and your husband.

Emmie Johnson said...

memories are alive n they make u relive the essence of your good times

robert said...

humans are mortal but not memories..thats the only thing that remains alive forever in our heart and life which makes us feel that the person is still around..I am really sorry for Tod but I would like to give u one suggestion that dont think he is dead...he is with all of u..the only difference is, before he was visible and now he can be felt..