I had a nice conversation today with one of my most enduring friends. We've known each other since our very early teens and have managed to stay in touch on and off now for almost 30 years. She lives in California and I'm working on trying to see her when I'm there next month for work. We had the opportunity to talk about her brother-in-law, who was also an important friend from my teen years, who has been fighting cancer for a long time and has gone in and out of remissions for several years. Now it is back with a vengeance, they have abandoned western medicine for alternative options and he is very, very sick. They are very optimistic about the treatment they've found, but it will be a hard road. She said I wouldn't recognize him because he is so wasted by the disease and the treatments. This is a man just 4 years older than me.
We also talked about a mutual friend, who was younger than us by a couple of years, but with whom we both spent a lot of time. We were close enough that we had sleepovers together and borrowed each other's clothes, etc. This friend died last July from a rare and violent form of cancer that ravaged her body in a matter of months. My pal didn't know about this yet but when I told the news, it hit her hard, and for the first time, me as well. This time, I had someone our age, who was connected with her in a similar way to spark memories and share thoughts with. Thus my response to her death evolved rapidly from a detached sort of sadness about the death of a woman I once knew who lived far away to reminiscences about someone I loved and with whom I shared my hopes and dreams during my formative years.
Uff. That's it. No platitudes or advice. Just a deepened awareness. Make of it what you will.