In October it began to rain. It rained and it rained and it rained, and beneath the water-drenched weight of the tombstone grey sky the whole city bowed down into sadness. A few short weeks before a very dear friend of ours made a choice, a choice I can’t even begin to imagine, to stop his cancer treatment and see where nature would take him. It took him down, fast. October knew. October mourned.
In the rain we went to see him in palliative care, and later at the hospice. With grey skies darkening the window, we talked to him about what he thought came next, about how much he meant to us, about the legacies he would leave, about silly little everyday things that we thought might brighten his day for a moment, or distract him from the fact that the moments he had left in the world were counting down fast, so fast. Later we steadied him, supported him, and at the very end we just held him. There were no words. The words had already been said. We left him that last night and walked out into a cold, hard, steady rain that beat down on us like the grief of the world made manifest.
In the morning the call came, and that was it. His life was done. The reality of loss. The hole in the world that opened up because he wasn’t there anymore, would never be there again.
On the day of his memorial the rain fell without cease. We gathered in the dark and the cold and remembered him in a space made light and bright and warm by candles, by love, by respect. And the people who had known him so well celebrated all the unique moments of his life, and gave voice to his last message to all of us: wake up. Wake up now, before it’s too late. Outside, the world mourned. It mourned a creative, kind, determined, fantastically ornery person. It mourned a father, partner, brother, son. It mourned my friend.
I first posted this a long time ago, but it’s resonated so deeply over the last little while. This is what I’m thinking about right now. This is what I think about when I think of what it means to be awake. These are words I try to live by.
“We take for granted our time on earth. Even when we don’t, we do. We spend our precious moments on trivialities, on contrivances, and we lose sight that far more precious than our dollars are our minutes. It’s good to honor the dead. It’s better to honor the living. It’s good to use words. It’s better to take actions. And really, there’s no time to waste.” – Steve Casimiro