Thursday, July 29, 2004

absent friends

It's that day again, and once again I am having a tough time dealing with it. I'd like to request that in the future, nobody else do anything major on this day... it's a hard enough day as it is. It's all about beginnings and middles and ends, you see.

This day in 1964 was the beginning of Julie's life. (HBTYHBTYHBDJHBTY.) She's hit the big 4-0 with more spirit than many people have at half that age. I haven't seen her in person for like 15 years or so, but we email each other quite a bit and I feel like the love I had for her back in the day is still there, tempered by time and unencumbered by youthful stupidity and fear. I consider her to be family... though I think it will be interesting to see how that works when I meet her 'new' family, who I've never met.

This day in 2002 was also the end of Scott's life, a decision he made himself. If you didn't know him, you're probably not aware of how much less light there is in this world now that he is gone. He was the most human and humane person I've ever known - brilliant, funny, caring, and unfortunately under the impression that the 200% he was giving the world wasn't enough. His death was a wake-up call for me, because I hadn't spoken to him for a few years, and when I finally tried to find him, the first thing Google showed me was his obituary... I only missed him by a matter of days, and it just drove home the message about telling people how you feel while you still have time to do so.

This day in 2004 is just another day in my midlife crisis. I feel like I am on the middle of a line between Julie and Scott - with Julie on the life-affirming side, raising two kids and building a family, and Scott on the side of death, shuffling the deck to see if he gets dealt a better hand. My depression and physical pain keep swinging me towards one side, but the joy and love I share with Anne-Marie and friends like Julie keep swinging me back. All of that swinging is making me dizzy.

I talk to Julie all of the time, and if the world ended today I wouldn't have things left unsaid to regret. I talk to Scott a lot too, but it's mostly a one-sided conversation, and it's all the poorer for that. And it's not just other people - my life over the past 10 years or so has been a concerted effort to tell myself the things I need to know to be more whole, trying to convince my heart and head that the loose collection of traumas that previously defined who I am aren't me at all. That would be the real tragedy, believing forever in a personal fiction that limits who I am and can be.

If your world ended today, what would you wish you had said to the people you love? (Or the people you hate, if you have such people?) What would you wish you had told yourself? What would you wish you had let go of, and what would you wish you had kept? That maxim about living each day of your life as though it is your last isn't just some homily... it speaks directly to how much regret you are willing to carry around with you while you live, and how much unfinished business you are willing to leave behind when you die. John Greenleaf Whittier said that "...of all the words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: 'It might have been'", but I think more particularly the saddest words are those left unspoken.

Anyway, here's to absent friends, those who have moved on and those who have merely moved away.


Blogger krishna said...

Your words remind me of a poem that I read in my childhood. ( I remember neither the name of the poet nor the title of the poem). The poet intends to visit his close friend but caught in his work and other engagements, he keeps postponing his visits. One day to his regret, he learns that his friend is no
more! As usual, your words are wise. ( No wonder, your last name means learned and wise). My Sanskrit teacher has recently shared this poem with us, which I thought, exemplifies very well the quality of friendship.
Dadathi prathigruhnathi
guhyamakhayathi pruchathi
Bhunkte Bhojayete cheva
shadvidham mithra lakshanam.
( He gives and he takes: could be help, emotional support etc.
He conceals your secrets and he asks : he inquires and ensures that you share your secret desires, joys and sorrows with him).
He offers you food and he takes food at your place( Hospitality, friendship extending to the family).
These six qualities are the qualities of a friend.
It's rare to find people of the same wave length, with whom , one is comfortable enough to expose one's character flaws and warts, and still be confident that one is loved and cared for.
You are lucky that you are surrounded by such people.
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