April and May has wrought a lot of loss. My grandmother lost Harish, a man full of humor, music, and deep understanding who was her life partner for the past 35 years. Michelle, a friend of unbridled vibrancy and laughter like jewels who was family to me and mine left us at a startling young age. Another lifelong family friend succumbed to his own battle and, like Michelle, left behind a young family. A best friend’s father, an avid gardener and man of endless layers of wisdom and wry humor, a man who always made those in his presence feel welcome, left without warning. And yesterday the inimitable poet, writer and revolutionary Gil Scott-Heron is dead.
It’s a short time to have so many amazing people pack up their talents and leave this earth. I remember what was said of those who died shortly before 9/11/01 – that they left to get ready to welcome the others whose lives were lost in the tragedy that struck that day. My friend, Michelle, died the day before the recently predicted Judgment Day. We can all be pissed at those who predicted it, roll our eyes and say it was irresponsible of them to try to drag others along on their crazy-train but, regardless, some day the world is sure to end. It could have been then, and it could have not. It could be tomorrow, or countless tomorrows more. Either way, it didn’t escape my notice that she left the day before the predicted day of reckoning. If anything made me think there might be even a glimmer of truth to the doomsdayers, it was knowing there couldn’t have been a better person than her on the other side. That, and the weird fact that a friend of mine wrote a story twenty years ago about Judgment Day, predicting with some surprising accuracies the current life statuses of me and several other friends. That aside, all this has got me to thinking.
I’ve been wondering about the responsibility of all of us still here. I was listening to NPR not long ago and heard an audio clip of a woman whose husband died in one of the towers on 9/11. She talked to him on the phone after the plane hit and until something fell, and the call ended. She said that she wanted to rush into the building and save him. But she couldn’t. She said that she now lives life more fully, living it, as she is, for the two of them. I couldn’t stop Harish from getting cancer, or Michelle. I couldn’t keep my friend’s father’s heart ticking, or anyone else’s for that matter. I can’t take away the pain or loss that any person or family feels.
But I can live my life more fully, and more responsibly, than before.
I am two minutes away from my next year of life. And for that year, I commit to live just a bit more fully and more thoughtfully, which is my responsibility, in honor and memorial to all those who have come, and gone, before me.
QUESTION: what is the message you take of those who have left us? What will you do in their honor?