Myers spoke about gardening and summer squash. Brad's pumpkin had withered on the vine the month before; now the doctor talked about how jack-o-lanterns just ended up being swiped by trick-or-treaters anyway.

Finally, Myers said, "Brad, I think you're dying." The two looked at each other without saying anything more.

As they sat silently, Brad slowly gave in to the morphine drip and his killer. Realizing the moment of death was near, Myers left to look for Brad's parents. He was in the hallway when a nurse rushed up.

"Brad just said, `Go get Adam, I'm ready to die,'" she said.
Myers walked quickly back to the room. Brad's eyes were closed.
"Brad?" he said, touching his arm. "You might be asleep when your parents get here. Is there anything you would like me to tell them?"

With an effort, Brad pulled back from wherever he was heading. In a voice hardly above a whisper, he said, "I love them."

By the time his parents arrived, Brad was in a coma. Myers passed on their son's last sentiments and left them to make their own goodbyes.

At his home, as the flames dance in the fireplace, Myers wonders aloud what it was that his friend Charlie Abernathy saw on the other side of the wall. Whatever it was, he's convinced that someday that's where he'll find Charlie and Brad and Sam and the others who have gone on and those who will follow.

Until then, his duty is to the living. People with AIDS are living longer than they were ten years ago, but his successes are still measured in days and months. In keeping people like John alive so that he can go home to Kansas this Christmas and spend what time he has left with his family. To delay Woofer's ride in the clouds.

His enemy remains fierce and intractable. The emotional toll is high.
A week after Brad died, Myers's physician friend, who had been in remission, was readmitted to the hospital. The cancer had returned and invaded his brain.

It was a devastating blow. Myers had hoped that this time he might win. But the bogeyman was near at hand. No matter how fast he ran, his friend would, barring a miracle, die soon.

Myers felt like a failure. But then his friend's wife pointed out that without his help, her husband would have died that summer. Instead, he had enjoyed a few more months, and they'd had time to reflect on the truly important things, like their children and rich memories of life together. They got to say goodbye while the sun was shining and there was still hope.

When he met later with his friend, the man matter-of-factly discussed what was coming. He didn't want any intervention other than to address the pain, and he thanked Myers for his care.

As he finished, his eyes were glistening, but he smiled and said, "Now, I just want to make the best use of the time I have. Other than that, I'm ready."

And so Myers, a doctor without a cure, at least has an answer. When all is said and done, it simply comes down to buying a little more time. To cheating death long enough to harvest gardens, to see another snowfall, to play one more game of catch with a child.

To laugh in the dark. To love a little longer. To live while we may.
end of part 2

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