Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Where It's At (I Got Two Turntables and a Microphone)

I wrote this post last year when I found out one of my friends from high school had died.  I didn't have the heart to post it then, but today was her birthday.  Happy birthday, Gwen, we're still thinking of you.

Yesterday a friend died.  I hang out at a place for people who have been touched by cancer, so I know how inevitable death is.  Sometimes I even expect it.  It's hard to watch someone suffer a brain tumor - someone who was a way cool dad of two young children and a pretty wife.  But I know that's the price I pay for hanging out with folks like me.

But the death of this friend was unexpected.  And maybe that's why it felt like such a punch in the gut.

Her death sent me down that philosophical path that we all travel as we hit middle age and come face to face with our own mortality.  I've had my fair share of that little tete-a-tete over the past year and a half, but once you're past the initial stage where you actually have to consider that you might be the next one to kick the bucket, you sort of forget about it and go on with life.

I'm sad.  

There's really no other way to describe it, this feeling of knowing that I'll never see this high school friend's witty comments on Facebook again.  Or that we'll ever get to share that lunch that never happened.  We both had good intentions, but we got caught up in living.  She lost her job and her house, and had to move back home with her folks.  I found out I had cancer and turned all of my attention to surviving (with grace) each of the steps I had to take until I found my new normal.  The jury's still out on what that will be, but I know now that it will not include us laughing and sharing.

She and I weren't close friends in high school.  We only had a couple of classes together, and our lives were very different.  I wasn't jealous of her, but compared to my boring and uneventful existence, she seemed to be . . . in the thick of things, where stuff happened.  I was fascinated by the stories she told because they were dramatic, exciting - full of action.

We didn't stay in touch.  But then the internet happened, and Facebook gave us the chance to reconnect.  After the bubble of the high school social scene was burst, it seemed crazy how many things we had in common.  

We were both teachers, had gone to graduate school to get our MAEd.  She loved her pets and her students, and maybe I'm the same way.  We both felt like the social dynamics of high school, and all that THAT loaded statement implies, made us the adults that we became.

It seems like when mortality raises its ugly head and announces that we are all fragile beings that I just want to ask:  what was the point of her death at such a young age?

The reality is, there wasn't one.  Death is neither good nor bad, it just is.  As sure as you are living, you know you will die.  It happens to us all in the end.  But we see death as the enemy for what it takes from us, and sometimes, if we're lucky, we get to see what a friend's life can really mean to us before death happens.

I'm glad that this friend and I got to spend time together with late night chats in the middle of summer break.  I only wish we'd gotten to do it more often. 


zoe said...

i'm so sorry. i don't know what else to say. it hurts :(

Lanesue said...

Missing your posts. You OK?

Beezus said...

I am doing very well - so well, in fact, that I am back at work. That plus a HUGE quilt project with a looming deadline have sort of been taking all my time. Hopefully as work winds down (my job is seasonal), I will have more time to do other things again. :)