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'I'm Going to Fight This': Part II

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Shortly before Rock Hudson died in October 1985, he decided that a book should be written about his life and battle with AIDS. Too weak to do it himself, he agreed to work with journalist Sara Davidson and urged his friends to cooperate with her. This concluding excerpt from Rock Hudson, His Story (to be published in July by William Morrow) begins in 1977, when Hudson was completing a three-month national tour of Camelot.

King Arthur was Rock’s favorite role. It was a showy part, with wonderful songs and challenging opportunities to act, and Rock identified with Arthur, who was pulled apart by his love for Lancelot and Guinevere. The play was autumnal, about the glory that had been, and it resonated with the mood in Rock’s life.

Just before the tour ended, he called Mark Miller, his secretary, in California and said, “I want a beauties party when we get home. Could you arrange it? Have a party waiting for me at the house.” Miller did as he was told. He invited about 10 friends and asked an optometrist in Hollywood to round up 50 beautiful young men and bring them to a swimming party and barbecue.

When Rock arrived with Tom Clark, his companion and personal manager, they saw 50 tanned men in swimsuits splashing in the pool and lying on the patio. The dogs barked and ran to Rock and jumped on him, but none of the beauties stepped forward. They whispered and stared and smiled. “Rock loved it,” Miller says. “Tom was less amused. He went upstairs to the bedroom, and his friends came up and had drinks with him.”

Armistead Maupin, a gay writer from San Francisco, was in Los Angeles for the party and was dazzled. It was like being at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy mansion, except all the perfect-looking creatures were male. “There were some of the best-looking men I’d seen in my life,” Armistead says. Rock took him aside and said, “Look at that one. He’s an 11 on a scale of 10.”

“Who are they all?” Armistead said.

“The blonds are named Scott and the brunets are named Grant,” Rock said.

By 1977 Rock had begun what Mark was to call “the decline.” Hudson was drinking so much gin that the alcohol seeped out of his pores and “his breath was awful.” Hudson’s temperament, which had always been buoyant, turned dark. He was envious of anyone else’s success or good fortune. If he read that another star had a 65-foot yacht, he’d say, “Where does he get the money? I hope it sinks.”

Some of his friends thought Rock, then 52, couldn’t handle growing old. “This is a cruel business,” says Stockton Briggle, who directed Rock in Camelot. “You’re handed the world, and when it’s taken away from you, what do you do?”

Rock’s energy went into one-upmanship and bickering with Tom. “He didn’t put film projects together or do creative things,” says longtime friend George Nader, who lives with Mark Miller. “He drank and fought with Tom.” Clark says, however, that “for every 10 minutes we spent bickering, there was an hour we spent laughing.” There were drunken scenes in restaurants. “Mark and I were mortified,” says Nader. “We’d been brought up not to make a spectacle in public. Rock and Tom didn’t care. It was the arrogance of being famous.”

For a time Rock became fixated on sex. Jim Gagner, who met Rock at an all-male party, says, “His sexual energy was so extreme, you could feel the heat. It made my ears burn. He could have sex once or twice a day with several different people.” For 20 years Rock had had his pick of the most beautiful men in the country, but no more: When young men spoke to him, there was a hint of patronization.

In July 1978 Rock and Tom went to San Francisco for the weekend, and Armistead Maupin took them on a sightseeing tour of homosexual clubs. This was a time when gay sex had become extraordinarily permissive, and the awful irony of course is that this was when the AIDS epidemic was taking root. George Nader was upset that Rock had gone to these clubs, where he could be recognized, but Rock said, “I wanted to see it; you should see everything in life.”

Rock admitted, though, that he was startled at how promiscuous things had become. At a club called the Black and Blue, Tom Clark took one look inside and said, “This is too much for me. I’m going back to the hotel. You guys go on.” The Black and Blue had a motorcycle hanging from the ceiling and men in boots and leather standing around the bar. In the back of the club, sheets of corrugated metal were suspended from the ceiling to create makeshift spaces for orgies. It was like a scene from Bosch: a pile of naked arms, legs, backs and behinds. Armistead and Rock stood against the wall, watching, and Hudson thought it was funny. Armistead remembers thinking, “How ironic. I’m standing with the man who was the sex symbol of the world for two decades, and nobody’s paying any attention to him. We could walk through this place like two women—completely invisible.”

In November 1981 Rock was shooting a series for NBC, The Devlin Connection, when he had to have a quintuple heart bypass. He recovered with surprising rapidity, but Tom Clark wondered later if Rock might have contracted AIDS from blood transfusions during the operation. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where the surgery was performed, was in West Hollywood, where there was a large gay population. At the time no one in his circle of friends had heard of AIDS. They were beginning to hear rumors of a rare cancer that was killing homosexuals—”There’s something out there, be careful”—but it did not have a name.

Rock did not change his diet after the surgery, nor did he stop smoking, but he did cut back his drinking from 15 drinks a day to two. According to Mark Miller, Rock would occasionally get drunk, but not again for three weeks. “He woke up from the drunkenness of the 70s,” Nader says. “The meanness and sniping fell away, and he was returning to the Rock we had known in 1952—a warm human being who laughed and played games.”

In the fall of 1982 Stockton Briggle received a call from Rock at 10 one evening. “Can I come over?”

“Of course,” Stockton said, although he was preparing to go to sleep. Stockton had never known Rock to call like this and wondered what was on his mind. It was a night in which Rock poured out his sorrows, unburdened himself of all the fears and torments he’d been concealing. It is one of the few instances I have been able to find in all of Rock’s life where he confided in someone about his anguish.

Rock told Stockton that after his bypass surgery he felt like a man who’d been given a second chance. “It’s time to make my own choices. It’s time to do what I want to do without other people running my life.” He said he hated working in television because everyone settled for too little, and schedules were more important than quality. “I’m tired of doing crap. I’m sick to death of getting mediocre roles with mediocre writing.” He felt bitter that his long years of work in films had gone unrecognized.

Rock seemed so miserable, Stockton tried to reassure him. “Your work is greatly respected by lots of serious people, and you’re loved by millions.”

“But no one loves me,” Rock said.

“You have Tom.”

Rock made a scoffing sound and said, “There’s nothing there anymore. It’s purely social.” When Hudson left his house, Stockton was shaken. “It was an astonishing night. Yet, when I saw him next, he never acknowledged that it had taken place.”

Shortly afterward Rock moved out of the bedroom he shared with Tom. Secretly, in the fall of 1982, he began seeing Marc Christian, who was the type for whom Rock had a weakness: tall, blond, bisexual, in his 20s. The relationship went on for some time. In October 1983 Rock split from Tom and invited Christian to move into his home.

At first Rock seemed immensely relieved to be free of Tom. He told Dean Dittman, an actor he had met while touring in On the Twentieth Century, that with Tom he had had “five wonderful years and five years of servitude.” He was enchanted with his new lover. With Christian, he told friends, he could recapture the passion and sexual ecstasy he had known in younger years. “Rock was totally smitten with Marc,” Briggle says. “He couldn’t keep his hands off him.” Rock went to Israel that November to shoot The Ambassador and wrote passionate letters to Marc, who responded in kind.

Not long after Rock returned home in January 1984, however, he complained to friends that Christian was never around and that the romance had turned to ashes. A wall went up between Rock and Marc; they led separate lives and barely spoke. When friends asked Rock why he didn’t tell Christian to leave his house, Rock said, “I’m taking care of it, in my own way.” John Dobbs, who was Hudson’s houseman, says, “Rock exuded a cold loathing of Marc. I couldn’t have taken it. I would have left, but it didn’t seem to bother Marc.”

On Feb. 29 Mark Miller asked Rock how things were going with Christian, and according to Miller, Rock said Christian had recently confessed that on occasion he had taken money for sex and that he had purposely set out to meet Rock and become his lover.

Christian says he has never taken money for sex and never had such a conversation with Rock. But it is clear that something led to an estrangement. Christian stopped sleeping with Rock in his bedroom and moved into the guest bedroom. Christian says he did this because “Rock was sweating at night.”

While in Israel, Rock had lost weight, and George Nader didn’t think the weight loss was flattering. Rock, however, was pleased. He’d tell Mark Miller, “I’ve lost another two pounds!” Miller was envious. “We were eating the same food. Rock had a chocolate sundae every day. We’d discuss what we ate and why he was losing and I wasn’t.” But Miller also noticed about this time that Rock had a peculiar smell, which was familiar but which Miller couldn’t place. Then he remembered and told Nader: “It’s the smell my brother had when he was dying.”

On May 15, 1984 Rock was invited to a White House dinner. He was seated at Nancy Reagan’s table, and he told Miller later he had been “bowled over” by her. “She’s funny, charming, and does she know how to keep a table moving!” Nancy had told Rock he was too thin, he should fatten up, and Rock had answered, “You’re thin also.” Rock had dropped 30 pounds and was down to 195.

A week later he was in Miller’s office when photographs taken of him with the Reagans arrived, autographed by both of them. He hadn’t asked for the pictures and thought it was “classy” of the Reagans to send them.

Rock and Mark studied the pictures. One was taken from the side and showed a large red sore on Rock’s neck, just below the hairline. Rock thought it was a pimple, but it had been there for almost a year.

“Rock, you’ve gotta do something about that pimple on your neck,” Mark said. “Why didn’t you wear Erase? You knew you’d be photographed.”

“I don’t wear makeup, except on film. Never have.”

“It looks terrible. It’s bigger, and it should have been gone by now. You should go see the skin doctor.”

On May 24 Rock went to see a dermatologist in Beverly Hills, Dr. Letantia Bussell. She took a biopsy and suggested Rock go to Dr. Frank Kamer, a plastic surgeon, to have it removed. Dr. Kamer had done eyelid surgery on Rock in 1981, and Hudson made an appointment for June 5.

After he had seen Dr. Bussell and before his appointment with the plastic surgeon, Dr. Bussell called with the biopsy results. Rock later described the conversation to Mark. The doctor said, “Are you sitting down?”

“No,” Rock said.

“I think you’d better sit down. It’s Kaposi’s sarcoma. You have AIDS.”

Rock told no one. On June 5 he asked Mark Miller to drive him to the office of the plastic surgeon to have the “pimple” removed. Mark had no hint of the gravity of the occasion. Three hours later Miller drove Hudson home with a large bandage covering his neck. They ate franks and beans that the butler, James Wright, had fixed—it was one of Rock’s favorite lunches. Then Rock went to take a nap. “He didn’t seem upset,” Mark says.

At 2:25, Rock came into Mark’s office and sat down. “I have to tell you something. I have AIDS.” He stared at Mark for a long time.

“I don’t know why I haven’t told you before. Dr. Bussell called last week and said they found it in the biopsy. They’ve arranged for me to see a specialist from UCLA, and you have to go with me. You have to come to all the doctors with me. I sit and listen and I don’t hear a word.”

Miller knew nothing about AIDS, and Hudson knew nothing except that the chance of survival was bleak. Newsweek had done a cover story in 1983 stating, “AIDS may be the public-health threat of the century.” But Rock was the first man his friends knew personally to contract it. “I thought it was a disease that fairies on Santa Monica Boulevard got,” Mark says. “My mind was whirling—could you get it by kissing, touching, was it in urine? Rock used my bathroom, he coughed in my face, he touched my hand, we shared food.” Mark says his first thought was, “Run, get out and never come back so you don’t get it and die too. I got up and left the room, but my body stayed. An inner voice said, ‘Do not desert.’ ”

“May I tell George?” Mark said.

“Always. I trust George with my life.”

Rock went back to his bedroom, and Mark immediately called George in Palm Desert, where George was then living and Mark spent his weekends. George recalls, “Mark could have said, Rock is going to be executed. It was just like the knife going down with a terrible sound.” George asked if he could speak to Rock.

“Hiya,” Rock said.

“I know the news,” George said. “I’ll do anything I can. What can I do?”

“Silence,” Rock said.

“Fine. Are you sure there’s nothing else?”

“No. Just absolute silence.”

“Fine. We love you.”

On June 7 Dr. Gary Sugarman, who was one of Rock’s internists, cleared his office of patients and introduced Rock to Dr. Michael Gottlieb of UCLA, one of the premier AIDS researchers in the country. During a two-hour consultation, says Miller, Dr. Gottlieb gently informed Hudson of the symptoms and course of the disease. At one point Rock said, “Is it terminal?”

Dr. Gottlieb paused, too long. “If I were you, I’d get my affairs in order.”

Rock was in a rage afterward. “He wouldn’t tell me if it was terminal. He wouldn’t answer me directly.” Rock told Mark, “I’m going to fight this. Besides, I think they’re wrong. I don’t have it. I won’t have it. I will not have this!”

Dr. Gottlieb said there were four stages patients usually go through: fear, denial, rage and acceptance.

Rock said, “What about sex?”

According to Miller, the doctor said it was inadvisable to have sex because there was the possibility of transmission. If Rock did have sex, he should use a condom.

Rock wanted to send anonymous letters to three people he’d had sex with in the months prior to learning he had AIDS. Mark drove to Palm Desert with a draft, and George wrote out the notes in longhand and mailed them from his post office so they couldn’t be traced to Rock.


This note shall remain anonymous for obvious reasons.

Since we have had intimate sexual contact where sperm has passed between us, I feel it only fair to tell you that I have just found out I have AIDS.

I am most sorry to tell you this.

I suggest you have tests made to make sure you’re okay.

Clearly, Rock was concerned about the people he might have infected. But Marc Christian says Rock never told him he had AIDS and continued to have sex with him until February 1985. According to his friends, Rock said he hadn’t had sex with Christian since the spring of 1984, prior to the time he learned he had AIDS. Yet why did Rock not tell Christian? Christian may have been exposed and may have exposed others. George Nader believes Rock was terrified that Christian would spread the news and destroy Rock’s ability to work. “Rock’s life and career had long ago become commingled, so any threat to his career was felt as an attack on his life.” Nader says Rock told him Christian had threatened before to go to the National Enquirer and expose Rock as a homosexual. Christian claims he never threatened to expose Rock.

Rock was determined to tell no one he had AIDS except Miller and Nader. But shortly after receiving the diagnosis, he had broken down and told Dean Dittman. He had gone to Dean’s for a dinner party and arrived an hour early. He walked over to the bar, took out his wallet and said, “Look what I got.” He threw a package of rubbers onto the counter.

“Why, Rock, have you gone back to women?” Dean said.

“No. I have AIDS.”

As Dean stared at him, Rock said his doctors had told him that if he had sex he should wear a condom. The trouble was, he couldn’t figure out how to put it on gracefully. “I’ve never worn a condom in my life. Won’t I give the show away if I suddenly have to put one on?”

Guests began to arrive, and Dean and Rock could not talk further. It was a warm night, and the guests drifted out to the balcony. Dean was in the kitchen, cooking, when Rock came back, leaned against the sink and started to sob. “Why me, Dean? Why me?”

Rock felt ashamed and unclean and said he hoped he would die of a heart attack so the public would never find out. Later he began to deny he had the disease. He started staying out late and drinking and smoking more, even though he had been told that alcohol could lower the ability of white blood cells to fight infection. When Mark reminded him of the doctors’ counsel, Rock silenced him with a wave. “I told you, I don’t have it!”

Rock was losing weight rapidly, and friends began to ask Mark and Dean if he had cancer. Mark and Dean would say no, but maybe he has anorexia—is that possible? Mark said it often struck men at his age, who tried to recapture the weight of their youth and went too far. No one really bought the story of anorexia, but no one was willing to believe, either, the vague rumors that Rock had AIDS. Elizabeth Taylor said she thought Rock had cancer, but she didn’t feel she could ask him about it.

Hearing of an experimental drug, HPA-23, which was said to suppress the AIDS virus, Rock traveled in August 1984 to Paris, where the drug was being used. After seven weeks of treatment Rock’s doctor could find no AIDS virus present.

Rock told Mark he had great news: The serum had worked. There was no more AIDS virus in his blood. Rock did not tell him what else the doctor had said: that he still had the disease and that he would have to stay on HPA-23 or the virus would grow back. What Mark Miller heard was that Rock was saved. Rock looked wonderful, he hadn’t lost any weight in seven weeks, and he was elated. “I don’t have AIDS. I’ve licked it! I told you, I never had it in the first place.” He had received an offer from Esther Shapiro, the co-producer of Dynasty, to appear on the show. Despite his feelings about television, he decided to accept.

Within a few weeks of his return from Paris, though, the bubble burst. “I’ve lost another 10 pounds. What the hell is happening?” Rock said. His face had the saggy look of elephant skin. He was sleeping 12 hours a night and collapsing after lunch to sleep for another two hours.

Miller and Dittman tried to convince Rock to return to Paris for further treatment, but he refused. “It’s cold in Paris. There’s no work. I don’t want to hear about Paris!”

At the end of October Rock started work on Dynasty. He had made a commitment to do six episodes, with an option for four more. While he was shooting, Rock joked and chatted with the cast, who felt honored to be working with him and were charmed by his kindness and lack of pretension. When he was not required on the set, he went to his trailer and slept. He did not eat with the cast because he had no appetite and was beginning to throw up meals.

Rock’s memory was failing, which was humiliating. It meant he could not perform the most basic skill of his craft—memorizing lines. But onscreen, Esther Shapiro says, “He was magical. I would have kept him forever. He looked tired at the end, but none of us thought he was seriously ill.”

Rock too was pleased with his appearance on Dynasty. He would ask friends, “See Dynasty last night? I think I look good. I look the way I did when I started acting.”

Then he received the script that called for him to kiss Linda Evans. He walked into the kitchen where Mark Miller was sitting and threw it on the table. “Jesus Christ. I’ve got to kiss Linda. What the hell am I going to do?” He had been given the script a week before it was to be shot, and all that week he agonized. It had been reported in the press that the AIDS virus had been detected in saliva, although there was no evidence that the disease could be passed through kissing. Rock did not consult his doctors about the scene. Dr. Gottlieb says, “I would not have advised a passionate kissing scene with anyone.”

Rock fretted about the kiss with Mark. “Do I run to Gottlieb and Sugarman and say, ‘There’s a kiss, what do I do?’ Do I reveal it to Linda Evans, to Esther Shapiro?” Rock kept coming to the conclusion that he could do nothing. Mark says, “He was trapped. He couldn’t ask them to change the script. He felt, either you announce you have AIDS or kiss the lady.”

Rock made what Mark calls a “career decision.” Rock’s career had always been the determining factor; all other considerations came afterward. Rock knew, though, that “way down the line, I’m gonna pay for that kiss.” His mood changed toward the show, and he started making a pun of the title, Die Nasty.

On the day the kiss with Linda Evans was shot, Rock used every gargle, mouthwash and spray he could lay his hands on. He came home and told Mark, “The kiss is over with. Thank God.” He said it was one of the worst days of his life.

The night the episode aired, George Nader watched it, frozen with dread. He taped the show, played it back and stopped the action. To his relief, he says, “I could see where Rock kept his lips closed and hit Linda on the side of the cheek for a brief, chaste kiss. He did not open his mouth, no saliva was exchanged.”

Once it was over, Rock did not give the kiss a second thought. It was a lifelong pattern: He did not seem vulnerable to guilt.

By the fall of 1984 Rock had lost interest in sex. In the past he had always loved to hear details of sexual adventures and had been pleased if someone sent him a “care package” of pornography, but now he did not want to hear or see anything relating to sex. Dean Dittman says, “If an erotic scene came on television, Rock would shut it off. You couldn’t discuss sex around him; he was dying because he’d had sex.”

Rock spent long periods in Mark’s office, staring into space. Mark would be answering letters or balancing accounts, and Rock would say, “I’m gonna die.” He said it like a child taunting his mother, “I’m gonna eat worms.”

“I’m gonna die.”

“No you’re not,” Mark said, taking the part of another child.

“I am too,” Rock said.

“No you’re not.”

“Yes I am. Na na na na na.”

“Stop it,” Mark would say, and they’d laugh.

By January 1985 Rock was covered with rashes, in his genital area, on his face, and he couldn’t have cortisone to alleviate it, because the drug would adversely affect his immune system. He had Vincent’s disease, an infection of the mouth, and two front teeth were loose. He developed impetigo, which was highly contagious and covered his chest, back and legs with itching sores. Rock said he could not sleep at night because of the maddening itch. He walked around in under shorts because clothing made it worse.

When summer arrived Rock was failing by the day, because he could not keep food down. He had dropped to 170 and seemed to have shrunk in height as well. No longer did he tower above other men; he seemed a normal size, about 6’1″. For the first time in his life Rock had nightmares and would wake up screaming. He was sweating so profusely in his sleep that the butler had to put plastic sheets on the bed. Rock told Mark Miller, “I stink at night. What is that terrible smell?”

On July 21, 1985, Hudson returned to Paris for more HPA-23 injections. Doctors there found his condition drastically worsened and said they could not cover up the fact that he had AIDS. A press release was written and read to Rock. He listened in silence, then said, “Okay. Go give it to the dogs.”

On July 30 Rock was flown home from Paris on a chartered 747 and taken by helicopter to UCLA Medical Center. Mark Miller hired a guard and private nurses. The hospital set up a lounge next to his room for visitors. Mark would schedule one guest in the morning and one in the afternoon, and he gave each of them a speech: Rock doesn’t look as we remember, try not to register shock; he may not recognize you or talk, you’ll have to do the talking; and don’t stay too long. After the visit, the guests would go into the lounge and “fall apart,” Mark says. When stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Carol Burnett came, Dr. Gottlieb made himself available to answer questions.

On Aug. 8 Juliet Prowse came to see Rock, and when she learned he hadn’t seen Tom Clark, she said, “Would you like to see Tom?”

“Sure,” Rock said.

A few hours later Tom walked into Rock’s room, “shaking like a leaf.” Rock’s face lit up.

“How you doin’, pal?” Tom said.

“Pretty good,” Rock said. Then he smiled. “It’s the pits, isn’t it?”

Little was stated, but from Rock’s eyes and voice, Tom knew “it was all right between us. I got in that room and, bingo! It was as if I’d never been away. And you know what? He looked beautiful to me. I was expecting him to look worse, but he looked radiant.”

Tom took over Mark Miller’s duties at the hospital and practically moved in. He would arrive at 8 in the morning and leave at 9 at night. He read to Rock, watched television with him, and cajoled and bullied him into eating. “Now eat your mashed potatoes,” Tom would say. “How the hell are you gonna get well if you weigh two pounds?”

“All right, I’ll eat!” Rock said.

Later, when they were alone, Miller told Clark that he was not in Rock’s will and that Rock was too sick for any alterations to be made. “So if you’re doing this with the idea that you can be reinstated, that’s not possible. You have to decide if you want to continue nursing an AIDS patient.”

Tom said he didn’t care about AIDS or the will, he was grateful to have this time with Rock. “If he’d died in Paris and I hadn’t been able to be with him again, I would have been desolate.”

Rock kept saying he wanted to die in his own bed, and on Aug. 24 he left the hospital for home. Tom came with him and was on duty 24 hours a day, fearing that something might happen to Rock if he left. He took pains to protect Rock from disturbing news and told visitors, “Don’t mention the hoopla over AIDS.”

One day when Tom was out getting his mail, Mark and George went up to Rock’s room. They wanted to tell him what had happened as a result of his announcement that he had AIDS, “before he slipped too far to understand it.”

George began, “Rock, you’re a hero around the world; the world loves you.”

“Why? I haven’t done anything.”

“The announcement that you have AIDS stunned the world,” Mark said.

“You’ve made AIDS the No. 1 story in every newspaper. Governments are allocating major funds for AIDS research—because of you.”

“You’re joking,” Rock said.

“We’ve got 30,000 letters downstairs. You’re getting more publicity now than in all your years as an actor—through 64 films.”

Rock shook his head slowly. “Isn’t that neat.”

Mark said to George, “Wouldn’t you know Rock was gonna be immortal?”

George joked, “We’ve made you a goddess.”

“Please, a god,” Rock said.

Mark and George felt they had to leave or they would weep, and Rock was choking up. It was almost beyond his comprehension: The very thing he’d been resisting with all his strength had happened, and it had brought only good. Mark and George shook his hand and slapped his back, then left his room and broke down.

In the evenings, when the house was quiet and everyone had gone, Tom would get in bed with Rock and hold his hand. “Sometimes he’d clutch my hand and sometimes he wouldn’t,” Tom says. “I’m sure he understood me. I’d talk and talk, saying positive things, letting him know he was not alone.”

September 6 was Tom’s birthday, and when he went to Hudson’s room that morning, Rock was on his feet between two nurses, holding a cake and singing Happy Birthday. Tom was moved that Rock, sick as he was, had remembered the day and planned a celebration.

One evening, when the Santa Ana wind had started blowing and the weather was hot and dry, Tom said to Rock, “Let’s go sit on the deck. There’s a full moon tonight—it’s your favorite kind of night.” Tom walked Rock outside and settled him in a chair. The wind had blown all the impurities from the air, and the view was spectacular. Tom had the feeling that Rock wanted to talk about dying. “I would not let him, because I had decided he was not going to die. I probably let him down, but I did not want to hear any negative thoughts.”

As they sat in the warm, windy air, Tom said, gently, “You’re not fighting this, Rock. You and I have fought some big battles and won. Will you fight with me?”

“No, I don’t think so,” Rock said.


“I’m ready.”