Although I disagree with his conclusion that it’s all meaningless, I thought Dave did a nice summary of some of what’s been going on. My experience over that time frame is a little different; not better, not worse, just different. I’ve been trying for the past couple weeks to find the right way to express it, but what I’ve concluded is that either the right words don’t exist, or else I’m not clever enough to find them.
The past 18 months have been a bit of a roller coaster. There were definitely some high points, but when you’re heading into a valley, it can be difficult to remember the peaks.
Last March, an aunt passed away. It was somewhat expected, and in many ways, I’ve no doubt it was also a blessing. But when the end came, it was astonishing how quick it was.
We’d no sooner laid my aunt to rest then another relative passed away. This time an uncle on the other side of the family. His health had been declining in recent years, but this time it took me completely by surprise.
Right about the same time, a close friend was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Cancer. Thankfully, AJ beat the cancer and recently celebrated her first full year in remission. (This peak I remember. I’m looking forward to AJ celebrating many, many more such anniversaries.)
August of 2007 ended with news that another aunt had been hospitalized as a result of a stroke and for a brief time it appeared that I’d be ending the summer with another funeral. Happily, this was not the case and the rest of 2007 went by on a relatively high note. Along with news of AJ’s remission, friends Sue & Steve announced that they were expecting their first child, I threw my first-ever party for Talk Like a Pirate Day, took a creative writing class, and in November, took my first-ever swing dance lesson.
For me personally, the first half of 2008 was fantastic. I dove into swing dance, eventually taking three months of lessons and although I can no longer be a regular member of the Jaycees, I’ve managed to at least stay involved to the extent the organization is willing to make use of the skills and knowledge I’ve acquired.
The first crack in the patina of joy came in early July when Hodo’s brother passed away after a lengthy battle with colon cancer. I’d never met Chris, but I’ve known Hodo for four or five years, so AJ and I attended the viewing together to pay our respects and make sure Hodo knew that her friends were there for her.
Another shadow crept across the summer sky in mid-August. I’d like to think I could point out Robbie in a crowd, but the truth is that he was only 20 and the generational gap between us was such that I only really knew him as one of the kids who’d been growing up attending the local science fiction conventions. I know his father, Bob, well enough that we’ve occasionally chatted at the same conventions. I can’t claim to be a friend of the family, but I’m definitely part of their community.
In January, Robbie was diagnosed with Leukemia. I’ve known other people with Leukemia and they beat it. Between that and AJ’s successful treatment, I was certain Robbie would beat his cancer too. I was proud to be one of the people who contributed to the more than $2,000 that was raised at Shore Leave to help cancer patients and I was horrified when a month later, Robbie lost his battle.
It’s been raining off and on for the past day and a half. Not a downpour, but enough of a soaking to make the ground soggy and the skies gloomy. It fits my mood.
Last summer my aunt suffered a stroke. She made a partial recovery, but it’s not been going well lately. This past weekend she was accepted into hospice. There are a few potential wild cards that could change everything, but the prognosis at this point is somewhere between two weeks and two months.
I like Dave’s summary of the stages of life, but I disagree with his ending.
The sun rises in the East and sets in the West, and as the day ends, all slips into darkness. This too is meaningless.
When AJ was diagnosed with Cancer last year, her friends immediately closed ranks around her and Mike to make sure they had everything they needed. When Hodo’s brother passed away, her friends closed ranks to take care of her too. And when news came of Robbie’s illness, that community came together as well.
And that’s what I think it all means: Hold on tight to the people you care about. Let them know you care.
So if I seem a bit “out of sorts” or a bit “clingy” in days to come, it’s because that’s what I’m struggling with. I’m trying to figure out how to let my friends to know I care.
And perhaps those are the right words after all.