By mid November, the vague "eh" feeling had definite symptoms - blood clots in his legs - but no definite reasons. Cancer was ruled out through a series of tests and scans. Nothing definite showed up anywhere. Mid-December - the 15th - it was determined that he had some kind of cancer. On December 23, it was confirmed as gall bladder cancer. On January 26, he died.
~ ~ ~
During the entire course - from the vague nothingness to the clotting to the lying in a hospital bed plugged in to this, that, and everything else - when asked how he was doing, he would answer "okay" and then immediately turn around and ask, "And how are you doing?"
It was kind of maddening when you're trying to keep an eye on his health and want to find out exactly what his state-of-being was, but he was more interested in finding out what your state-of-being was - he wasn't sidestepping the issue, it was important to him to know how you were doing.
That he was dying, he was well aware... but how were you doing? He wanted to know.
~ ~ ~
I've been thinking about this a lot over the last six months or so. There is really nothing more important, although it may seem like it at times. How we act to others defines who we actually are. How we treat others when things aren't going well for us - even when we're almost dying, up until we are about to die (which happens only once, and can excuse certain behavior) - is far more telling than how we treat others when we're on top of the world, happy as a lark, with nothing but blue skies from now on.
So, how are you doing?