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As I stare into the night, someone I know is watching the love of her life slip into the quicksand of death one agonizing millimeter at a time. Family and friends come and go, stretch their own grief to mingle with hers. But nothing stops that creep of darkness reaching toward the glow on the horizon.

There will be talk about how much living he crammed into a too-short life. It seems often the case: those, whose destiny will be cut short, seem driven to soak up as much life as possible, to accomplish more than the rest of us, to be ever moving and doing and laughing and teaching. But now, as he slips from their grasp, no one has words for what is happening. It is simply too shocking and too confusing. Words dissolve into a swamp. There is no help for the blunt truth of loss.

For the first time in over two years, his pain seems to have submitted to the master. Pharmacology has been the jailer, holding out the promise of relief, cures, and time, yet exacting untold discomforts and miseries as the price of life. Now pharmacology steps forward in its own morbid victory march, removing the pain but stealing the essence of the man.

There is nothing just about a brilliant life slipping away. There is nothing fair about the bright promise of love and romance dashed on the shoals of cancer. And I sit here, miles away, reaching through the void, but failing just as clearly as medicine is failing. There is no quick fix for heartache. There are no words that provide solace. No amount of hugs will replace those lost.