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A Lesson Before Dying

I just received the news that one of my friends from high school is dying. His second transplanted liver has failed him, and the doctors have given up on him. Now, the only way he can stay in the land of the living is by a miracle...(and yes, I do believe in them.) He's 38.

Of all my classmates that have died, I know I'll take this one the hardest. Why? For one, he's a cool dude who didn't mind telling me letting me in on The Secret Lives of Men. When I was a broke college student, he and his wife -- who's also my good friend -- would make sure I was able to hang out with them in the manner to which I was accustomed. And when my mom made her big move to the city, he and one of his homies came and packed the truck.

What makes his impending death even sadder to me is that it could've been avoided. See, the reason his liver is failing him now is that he put it to work too early. He started drinking on a daily basis when we were in high school.

He used to carry a briefcase to school every day. Unbeknownst to me at the time, it was filled with 40s. He and another classmate would partake of their beers with one of our teachers. I'm not sure how it started, but I know it was pretty regular. And no, none of them ever got caught.

But they've all had to pay a heavy price. My friend was a full-blown alcoholic in his 20s, but all that stopped after he had his first liver transplant. That was before his 30th birthday. A second one followed. After that, he was diagnosed with glaucoma, and now, a few weeks before his 39th birthday, the doctors have given up hope. His wife is going to be a 40-year-old widow, and his children will now have to tell their children stories about their grandfather.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, the classmate that my friend used to drink with also became a full-fledged alcoholic who spent his life in a drunken stupor. He died earlier this summer from a seizure at the age of 40. And the teacher died a few years ago from cancer, I think. When I think about how smart these guys were -- the teacher notwithstanding -- and how much potential they had to make a difference, my heart just aches.

What I hope is that some young person will read this post and think twice before making alcohol a regular part of their day. And I ask you to say a prayer for my friend...

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