So we buried my brother in law on Friday. He was a life long smoker. Although he died of kidney failure, it was a direct result of so many years of smoking. Derrick was 62 & left many loved ones. Most were grown but should that lessen the loss to any of them. And then some of you know my sister Linda was diagnosed with lung cancer & that it was under remission. Last Wednesday another mass was found & it doesn't look good. I'm so tired of this.
There are those who walk the streets of our little village every day whose sole purpose is destruction. Down every dark alley and dead end street, bullying the weak & uncommitted, Nick Deemon and his sister Nicole are forever enemies to the Elders of Ex.
Here’s a new member now. They’re scared. Their fear coming from the lies fed them by the twins, cravings that are sure to come & the unknown. They just want freedom but haven’t a clue as to how it can be achieved. They don’t yet know they have a choice. The Elders spring into action and swarm to this fragile soul like iron filings to a magnet. They must get there before the Deemons can take them away. The Elders arrive with the “Shield of NOPE” and the “Sword of Learning”. These are formidable weapons in the fight for cessation. They must carry these weapons at all times else Nick and Nicole will know & seek them out with unrelenting empty promises no matter the tenure of the citizen.
But the siblings can’t stand against the onslaught of the Elders. For part of their success is due to the “Apprentices” who have traveled safely through “No Man’s Land” and are hard at work to one day assume the mantle of Elder. There also are “Newbies” who are willing to make the sacrifice to help in the “War for Freedom”. “The Newbies” & Apprentices” are vital in this battle for they are the greater number. All combined make for a strong army. The Elders need you.
We've had 4 dogs & 3 cats living with us in this house for the last 25 years. At one time they were all here together. Over the years they all died of old age. Not one less than 15 years when they passed. Lost our last cat 1 1/2 tears ago & the place hasn't been the same since, Would like for you all to say hey to the newest member of our family, Simon. Got him just today so he's still a little bashful. I know this is gonna work out for us though. It just feels right having animals in our home.
You think it’s hard to keep saying no day after day, battling that urge that wants you to pull in for a pack or saying no to lighting up the one you kept around for just in case. You think it’s hard getting through the first three days & then having to navigate “No Mans Land”.
You know what’s hard? Feeling your tears & seeing those of your family & friends as a loved one goes into the ground. Dead because they wanted to quit but they just didn’t think they could do it. Dead because their smoking held more importance in their lives. Dead because “what’s the use”, because COPD is chronic & ya gotta die of something. Dead because their fear of quitting & the unknown was greater than the fear of living their lives without being able to take a useful breath, without being able to watch their grandchildren grow up, without being able to grow old with your spouse.
14 year old Lungs: Cough!...Cough!...Cough!...hack hack aaarrrgh! What the hell was that?!!
Brain: It's just a little sumthin I'm trying out. Mike's gotta be cool at school & all the cool people do this.
Lungs: Well what is it.
Brain: It's called smoking. We're smoking a cigarette.
Lungs: Well cut it out, I can't breath that crap.
Brain: We'll get used to it, you'll see.
Lungs: I don't wanna get used to it. It getting me all sticky & gunky in here.
Heart: What the hells goin on in here?!!! I'm workin overtime all of a sudden!
Lungs: Einstein up there has decided to be cool & start smoking.
Heart: Smoking...what's that?
Brain: Look, I just wanna hang around with the cool kids in school. This is what they do so this is what I'm gonna do. We just inhale a little smoke from this lit cigarette, hold it in for a moment & then blow it out. It's completely harmless. Look, you two can fuss all you want but I'm doin it anyway.
Heart: If he wants to smoke why don't he just set his pants on fire.
Brain: That would not be cool.
Lungs: Oh all of a sudden you're the expert on what's cool.
Brain: Actually I am. I see what people like to do & the friends they have while they do it. People like to smoke.
Heart: Okay but I'm doing this under protest.
Lungs: Me too.
Some Time Later-
Lungs: Hey Heart, I think were wrong about this smoking thing. I like the way it warms me up. As much as I hate to admit it I think Brain was right.
Heart: Yeah & it gives me a little boost when I need one. Keeps me going all day. Good call Brain.
Brain: What can I say...Are we cool or what.
33 years later-
Heart: Oh man I gotta do something, I'm starting to get really tired when we do anything. It's all I can do to keep the blood flowin.
Lung: I know what you mean. When we took Lulu for a walk this afternoon I could hardly catch my breath & this coughing thing is killin me. Ya know Heart, I think it's these cigarettes we've been smoking all this time.
Heart: I think you're right Lungs. I seem to get a little stronger while Brain is sleeping. Going those few hours without smoke helps out a lot. If we don't do something about the smoking I don't think we'll last another year.
Lungs: Yeah, this smokin is gonna shut us all down. 35 years is just too long
Brain: I hear you two down there. Smoking doesn't kill people, cancer kills people & we don't have cancer.
Heart: Don't you see what's happening brain. We can't function normally. You're killing us. They lied to you about smoking.
Brain: They wouldn't lie to me, they're my friends.
Lungs: Where's your friend Willard? He smoked most of his life. Didn't you see what happened to him. He withered to nothing.
Brain: That wasn't smoking, that was lung cancer.
Lungs: How do you think he got lung cancer?! Look, I can see what it's doing to me & it ain't pretty. I've got this black stuff all over the inside of me where it used to be all pretty & pink.
Heart: It's putting a huge strain on me too Brain. I was hoping it wouldn't come to this but if you don't stop smoking we're shuttin down. All business will come to a halt.
Brain: But I can't survive without you guys. I need you.
Lungs: That's right. But we need you too. And we need you to quit smoking.
Brain: I guess I could try it for a while but I'm scared. They've been such a good friend for a long time how do we say goodbye?.
Heart: You say goodbye you remorseless killer. They were never our friend Brain don't you see. They tricked us into believing that they were harmless.
Brain: I'm gonna need some help with this. I can't do it alone. I saw some sites on the internet. I think I'll try em.
Lungs: Do what you have to do. There will be no more warnings.
Some Years Later
Brain: Good call guys. I'm so sorry I picked up that nasty habit & did so much damage to you. I know I'll never be able to make it up, I'm so ashamed.
Heart: You can make it up to us by never taking another puff.
Lungs: Don't beat yourself up Brain. We're getting better every day & will keep it up as long as you remember NOPE. Not One Puff Ever.
Brain: That's a good idea fellas & thanks for stayin with me. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to do it without the support of my on-line friends though. What a big help they are. They all knew where I was comin from & where I was goin. They had all been there. I'll never forget em. I can't believe it's been 15 years, 2 months, 1 week, two days, 10 hours, 8 minutes and 18 seconds since my last cigarette.
So today marks 15 years since I quit the vile weed. Not One Puff Ever. I want you to know it wasn’t easy. I wanted to pull in for a pack & smoke just one, I wanted to bum just one from a co-worker, I wanted to light up the one I found in my toolbox, but I didn’t. I kept on. Doing what I do day after day until one day I got it. I realized I didn’t have to smoke. It was my choice. It’s your choice too. Keep on keepin on & become the person you didn’t know you wanted to be.
Yeah it was Nicole & she was being a *****. Trying to act like nothing happened the last time we were together & wanted to just pick up where we left off. Well I let her know right off we’d never be an item again…EVER. She talked about all the “good” times we had together & how “happy” we were. The friends we had, the places we’d been. Parties, concerts, dancing, the races. She was so animated about it all & remembered fondly every one of those times. I was smiling while thinking of those times & then something snapped in my head. She was playing me again! I laid down the law & told her to get out & never bother me again. I knew she would never really go away for good but I had to let her know we were really through. She was just as mad as the last time I asked her to leave but now she left with a message that cut to my soul.
“Well that’s okay, I’m going over to visit your daughter. You know we’ve been friends for quite a while now right?”
Dale was dog tired. He’d been on the trail for a week now helping these folks out. He longed for his own bed, a drink & a decent meal at the Extown diner. But here he was, doing what he could to keep these folks on track. Extown was their destination too though none of them had ever been there. He had crossed paths with these folks at the beginning of “The Cessation Trail”. They were new to this world & needed the direction he was so familiar with. So agreed to help them being the kind soul that he was.
There were signs of Nick Deemon's gang everywhere. The stench of cigarette smoke, the smoldering butts & occasionally some members of the gang could be spotted watching them from the hills. In the evenings you could see the tiny glowing embers from their smokes up the mountain. They thought they were hidden but I reckon you lose a little edge when you’ve got something dulling your senses 24 hours a day. Did the gang think the wagon train couldn’t hear all that hacking & coughing? “Let em take their time.” Dale thought “The longer Nick waits the stronger we’ll be when it all comes down.”
He had all the members of the wagon train watching for signs of when that might happen. They had plenty of ammunition. All the Winchesters & Colts had been loaded up with lozenges & Chantrix & everyone on the wagon train was gettin a good dose of NOPE every day
The morning had been easier than most but now they were coming up on “No Man’s Land” & there was a lot of danger there. “No Man’s Land”...where the journey has become routine. It was the perfect place for an ambush. Just far enough from the beginning for one to become complacent thinking all is well & just enough obstacles for temptation to hide. If Nick was gonna do anything this was the place. Dale knew if the wagon train made it through, chances were good they’d make it to Extown with very few casualties. If ya wanna get to Extown & join the Elders...ya gotta go through “No Man’s Land”. He had turned to tell the others to keep a sharp eye when he saw the trail rider get knocked off his mount.
“Everybody down & start throwing it back at em!” yelled Dale. It seemed they were everywhere in the rocks but his men were holding their own. The women were doing as much damage as the men, the surprise began to wane as more of Nick’s men were being hit. Dale was able to get behind some rocks at the bottom of the pass & start a climb.“There’s one of em tryin to get around behind us.” said QuitSlip Pete. “Go take care of im Winston. Winston was waitin on Dale when he was almost to the top but gave himself away with some falling stones cause he was just a little too eager & couldn’t stay still. From behind a boulder Dale threw a rock to divert Winston’s attention & nailed im twice before he knew he made a mistake. At the top Dale could see them all from behind. There were 20 of em. Dale started pickin em off at the closest one to him. They never knew a thing until 11 of the gang were down. When they turned to fire at Dale the wagoneers were able to hit em from behind. They’d had enough & picked up their wounded & got outta there fast. They had been hit with lozenges & Chantrix & were starting to look healthy. They wanted none of that. Dale started down the hillside.
“Help me.” Dale heard a raspy voice. Looking around he spotted one of Nick’s crew left behind. Some help arrived, they carried him down & put him in a wagon away from the others. They gave him a few more lozenges & let him rest. He was losing that pale ashen skin fast & color had started to invade his face. He didn’t care, all he wanted was a cigarette, the familiar kick at the back of his throat & the burning smoke searing his lungs.
“Well he’s gone. Ran off some time last night. I wish he would have let us help him” one of the ladies told Dale. “I hate when they won’t even listen that you might be able to do em some good.’
“We can’t force em to stay. If they want out, you can’t stop em.” Added Dale “Course I never seen one get away that fast before.
“We're almost through "No Man's Land" so how much further to Extown?” someone asked.
“Still a ways to go before we’ll be safe. Everybody just keep on your toes & don’t get cocky.” Dale replied. “We’ll be there soon enough. Let's just take it one day at a time.”
I saw her crossing the parking lot at my grocer yesterday, puffing away & throwing it down as she walked to the door. I grabbed one of my EX cards before going in hoping I would run into her. Something told me I had to talk to her. So I searched. Finally found her & introduced myself telling her I had seen her across the lot & that if she ever thought about quitting to visit us at EX.
She thanked me & said she had been quit for 15 months. She did it all by herself, just willpower. Then she got the news that she had cancer so what the hell. All I knew to do was give her a hug & tell her there was still a quality of life to be had without smoking even though she did have cancer. She was a little guarded about talking about it. I hope to run into her again. I just thought it so sad to just give up & lose all hope. I can’t imagine. I hope she visits us.