I can't say I was a good friend for I wasn't. He had problems, bad problems with drugs that lead to a life that I could not, and would not, be a part of. I cut him loose and never really looked back. But now I am looking back and I've realized that many of the things that annoyed me the most about him were in fact his way of trying to help me.
Sure, his idea of helping was, for example, to suggest that heroin would be of some benefit to me. I said no for obvious reasons, but the strange thing is that he was right, or at least partly right. I was an insecure, uptight little tosser when we first met. And if there's one thing about heroin, it does mellow a person out.
I'm not being naive here, I know that part of his motivation was to have someone else share his addiction in order make some money to pay for said addiction. I know too that he wanted the people around him to act as he did in order to feel normal about his behavior. But when I put this incident together with all the other times he annoyed me enough to remember it these 20 years later, I realize that at the bottom of every incident there was always an intent, however small, to help.
I regret not noticing that sooner.
For all his faults, for all the damage he did to himself and others, he isn't an evil man. And now he's laying in a fogged stupor not of his own choosing, unlike all the ones that went before. He's laying there waiting for the cancer to cut his carotid artery again, or close off his esophagus, or to cause pain so unbearable that never fully awakening again is the only option.
He does not deserve this, and fuck any self-righteous pricks who dare to suggest that he does. I've heard that there have been a few of those around, even on his medical team. He's human, flawed to be sure, but no less deserving of love and compassion for all of that.