The topic I was going to talk about the other night, but decided not to, was Friends. The reason this comes up, is because I recently learned that one of my friends has a bad brain tumor, and his outlook doesn't look good. The funny thing is, I was thinking about him the day before I heard. I was playing a song called "Horse With No Name" by the group America. I found the chords on a website (though I actually own a copy of the sheet music), and decided to play the song. The song reminded me of my friend Gary, because I always associate the song with the time we were sitting outside the front of the school. Gary was playing it on his guitar. It was year 12, and towards the end of the year. I can't remember why, but all of year twelve were sitting out the front of the school (which was seldom allowed), but for some reason, we were told to sit out there. Well, while we were wasting our time waiting for, whatever it was, to occur, Gary had his guitar with him. He was taking requests from people. One of the girls requested "Horse With No Name". I never really liked the song much, because it was rather simplistic. (Not that there is anything wrong with that. Some of the best songs in the world are rather simple. Just as a Classical Guitarist, I didn't/don't find the song much of a challenge. As such, I didn't like the idea of playing it). Well since then, every time I hear the song, I remember that occassion. For me, it was a happy memory, and one which I will hold with me to the end of my life. Mainly as we were all just sitting around relaxing, and though it was before our end of year exams, I don't think any of us were feeling the pressure at that stage. It's funny, because it's the only song I remember Gary playing and singing that day. He played plenty of others, but I think this song stuck in my mind because I didn't like it at the time. Now, though it isn't one of my favourite songs, I don't mind it, because it has turned into a happy memory. Weird how that happens. It's a bit like how I feel about ABBA in a way. I always thought their songs were rather corny (and Benny from ABBA has since agreed with me, which in my mind has raised my esteem for them. After all, if Benny from ABBA agrees with me, I feel a bit vindicated for holding that opinion.) Whenever I hear ABBA tunes now, they quite often remind me of the era, and happy memories with my friends. So the songs no longer grate on my nerves as much. Getting back to my friend Gary though, when I heard the news about his health problems, I was pretty sad. First of all, there is the fact that I am losing a guy who is a pretty good friend. We have many happy memories from when we were at school, both of us doing Music for year 12, and also from when we went to church together. Second of all, I've known his family for a pretty long time too. Almost as long as I've known Gary. Third, I've known his wife Janice for a long time too. I think I first met her when Gary and I were in school. It is for her and their son (Samuel) that I feel the greatest sympathy. Even though I know they will be okay in the sense that they won't starve or anything, I still feel the loss they will have. I know it sounds like I might have given up hope for Gary's health. I've been informed that his chances are pretty much zero of surviving. I haven't given up though. I still pray for him. Most of all though, I pray he will live, so that Janice and the rest of Gary's family can be spared the heartbreak of losing him. I am pretty certain Gary will go to heaven, whether that be soon, or in fifty years. In the meantime, I will pray for his recovery. Back in 1999 (I think it was, or it might have been 2000), I was given news from Doctors that I had a growth on my aorta. It was two years later that Doctors gave me the all clear. So in one sense, I can understand what Gary must have gone through when he heard the news. However, Doctors have not given Gary the all clear. He was given the opposite news. I'm not sure how devestated he was, or how calmly he took the news. I do know however, that as a Christian, dying is not the end, and is nothing to be feared. It is however, sad for those who are left behind. Another song Gary used to play, was "Fire and Rain" by James Taylor. There is a line in the song which goes, "I always thought that I would see you again". At the moment, that line is also very much in the fore front of my mind. Mainly because my finances won't allow me to travel to Sydney where Gary is. It's four thousand plus kilometers away. I always thought I would get back to Sydney one day, and most likely see Gary and Janice again. Now, it looks like I may not be seeing him again in this life. I have faith that I will see him in the next life however. Still, the loss makes me sadder as each day passes. Last Thursday, they played "Horse With No Name" on a music documentary. It's funny in a way, because I hadn't heard the song for years, then in a few short weeks, I find it on the internet and play it, then hear the news about Gary, and then it's on Television. Maybe it's co-incidental, but it's funny how I can be reminded of Gary one day, then hear about him another, and then find that he is still in the fore most of my mind by other reminders. This brings me to another song. "Big Yellow Taxi", which has a line, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone." Though I always appreciate my friends and do not take them for granted, the bad news has caused me to do some major meditation on friendship. In one way, I always thought Gary would be there when I got back to Sydney. So in that sense, maybe I was taking his presence on this earth for granted. I have had friends die before, but usually it is sudden, or I hear about it after the fact. This news seems more painful, as there is longer to think about what is happening and the loss being experienced. As I said though, I have not given up hope. It's possible with enough time and prayer, Gary will be okay, and maybe one day (God willing) I will see him again in this life. I will keep praying (and I ask anyone reading this to pray as well). I always thought Gary was a pretty amazing guy. In some respects, he was the acheiver of the school (though my other friends, Greg, Steven, Mark G. and Spang aka Martin are pretty much in that category too). When I first met Gary, it was in Music class in Year twelve. There was Gary, another guy Mark Crouse and myself. I know sometimes we grated a little on each others nerves, but that was Okay, that's part of any normal relationship. One thing I know for certain though, there was always respect there. I think after I got to know Gary at church, and we became friends, (or even more friends) the repect grew (at least it did for me). Gary was the head prefect in our school. I also remember him telling me he was going to marry Janice. He certainly acheived that. He was also planning on being a pilot for QANTAS. He also acheived that. I also knew him as a pretty good guitarist (and for us musicians out there, it's always cool to have a friend who is proficient on their chosen instrument). I'm not sure there is anything in life he can't acheive if he sticks his mind to it. Above all though, he is a pretty awesome friend. I don't remember him ever having a jealous bone in his body, and he was certainly always very friendly. Before you start to think I am starting to romantisize about the past, I can guarantee you, I am not. I have told other people these things in the past. Maybe not enough, and probably never to Gary's face, but they are certainly views I have held and expressed to others concerning Gary. Don't get me wrong either. I'm not saying he was some sort of superman who should be idolised. He certainly has his own flaws. I do know something though, he is what I would call a "supernice" and "superkind" person. Personally, I think he showed what the Bible describes as "Fruits of the Spirit". So I ask, that anyone reading this, if you have any amount of faith, whether it be as large as a mountain or as small as a Quantum Planck Length. Please pray for my friend Gary's health. This world can use all the nice guys we can get.