I have bad news ...
Cancer is soon going to take the lives of two people I love and there is not a thing I can do about it.
It's up to them to tell you who they are, but I will tell you they're among those receiving this message. Are there more names? Maybe you have a name, a sister, an old friend. It could be anyone.
I've prayed and meditated for them, which has brought me a kind of acceptance, but acceptance soothes none of my feelings of pain, angst and loss.
Henry David Thoreau wrote, "Every man lives his life in quiet desperation ..." Scholars say this means there is nothing you have that cannot be taken away.
If that's true, then no matter how rich and powerful you are, or how young and beautiful or how talented or capable, in a blink, or a week or in less than a year, all you hold as dear can be taken away from you, forever.
It makes normal sense, but now, with the impending deaths of my friends, this harsh reality has railed against my brain like tracer bullets tracking me in the night. And my heretofore belief that fear is the most indomitable motivator (more so than love) is being roundly challenged. Perhaps the former more aptly applies to animals in the wild, where the enormity of loss is less egregious.
An Oscar Wilde character said, "One should die with as many regrets as one can." What this character implied (aside from the suspicion that they're really living-it-up) is that we luxuriate in the knowledge that there will always be a new day to undo or make right the mistakes we've made.
I would like to believe that we're not completely gone from this world until the last person who ever knew us has also passed, that our values and traditions will be carried on beyond our demise through the actions and deeds of those we've known.
Recently, I was taken aback when one of my sick friends told me I'd been acting like someone with a bad case of the "bystander blues." Ouch! Maybe they were having an especially bad day or something, but OMG! Had my feelings of impotence become so transparent, so embarrassingly awkward? They quickly added, "Sorry, I didn't mean to make you feel bad, really."
It was at that moment I decided to write this message. Perhaps it's my way of trying to fool nature or stretch time, which is silly, I know. I guess I just wanted to do something to remind us, in spite of a life-threatening experience, just how connected our souls naturally are.
My wish is that we set our hearts on attaining a happy, passionate life, for as long as imaginable.
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Steve Eichenlaub is a resident of Sonoma.