Monday, May 7, 2012

Life is Too Short

Regular readers to this blog know that I recently lost a very good friend to cancer.  Yesterday I was handed another reminder of just how short life is.  It was my niece's first communion party.  My brother had told me about a year ago that his good friend JA has cancer, pancreatic cancer no less.  Devastating news.  JA is literally the only friend of my brothers that I ever liked. Ever.

Bro is 8 years older than me, and so we never really hung out in the same crowd.  He didn't approve of things I did and in general he always acted more like a father than a brother.  But JA is cool.  He's a super nice guy and he always had my back where bro was concerned.  I remember when I was just out of high school and between jobs.  Bro got into a pretty serious accident.  He was working landscaping at the time and was on a tractor when his shoelace got caught on the gas peddle.  He couldn't get it out and was thrown from the tractor with his foot still attached to the gas peddle.   The tractor dragged him for a bit, tearing his shirt off and then most of the skin off his back.  It was horrible!  His back was completely raw.  He came back home to stay with us while he was recuperating.  My mom was too nervous to do the things that needed to be done for him, like change his dressing several times a day and clean his wounds, so I did it.  I took care of him for several weeks while he recovered.  I didn't do much of anything else.  And then JA came over to see him. JA took me into the kitchen and said, "go... go out.  Do something else, I'll stay with him."  A much needed break that he knew I needed, and I went.  And I never forgot it. A bond was formed that day.  From then on he was my friend too.  JA is someone I love.

When he got married it was like he was my kindred spirit.  Married on Halloween, he and his wife had a costume wedding and he was Frankenstein and she was Bride of Frankenstein.  I think those who know me know how I feel about that!   It was awesome!

In the best of times, or the worst of times, JA was always there.  When my brothers friends were calling me a freak and asking bro why I looked the way I looked, JA had my back again.  He stood up for me with the closed minded.

And now, on the occasion of my niece's first communion party, bro told me JA would be there.  My niece is his goddaughter after all.  But he wanted me to know that JA looks drastically different.  Both bro and sis in law let me know that he is almost unrecognizable. And I thank them both for preparing me.  Because I don't think I would have been prepared for what I saw when JA came in.  He had aged a lot and was so painfully thin it's hard to even imagine, let alone see him.  It has been less than a year since I last saw him and it seems like way longer.  He was still the same JA as always though, even given this dreaded illness that he is trying to fight.  I tried hard not to talk about that, when you're going through it, do you really want to keep telling people about your treatments and things?  I imagine not, so I didn't bring it up and we just talked about general stuff.  He stayed a little while, ate well and soon had to leave.  In all likelihood that was the last time I will ever see him.

When the party was over, I thanked my sister in law and bro for letting me know what to expect ahead of time, and still, I wasn't prepared.  Sis in law said that he told someone at the party that he doesn't have much time left.  And that is when I broke down.   Much like J, JA is exhibiting a strength and dignity that I am simply in awe of.  I didn't want to lose J, and I don't want to lose JA.  I know I have zero control over that, but it sucks.  I hate it.  I don't want to lose people I love.  Who does really huh?

Life is too fucking short.  The more things like this happen, the more I tend to reexamine my life and want to make some changes to it.  Being content with sameness is unacceptable anymore.  I'm 46 years old.  I'm not getting any younger.  If something happens to me, like with J or JA, will I have a full life to look back on?  I don't know.  I know there is something missing.  I know there are so many things I want to do.  I know that I am going to go after what I want.  I just wish it didn't take such devastating losses to wake one up to these truths.


  1. Lalia, you are right... life is too short. And it is too short to worry about what other people think of you, or all the stupid little things that might bother you... cancer has a way of doing that. I completely understand your feelings, having lost my sister in law to pancreatic and ovarian cancer in 2001. It's incredibly hard. It's awful and devastating. But it also reminds you, again, of who's really got your back, of who really loves you, of what is really important in life. I really grieved for you when I read this. Because you know what is coming, you're going to have to deal with a terrible loss, and there is nothing you can do except let that person know how much you love them and how much they mean to you. I'm sorry I'm going on and on with this comment. But I honestly feel your pain and loss so acutely, you have conveyed your thoughts and feelings so extraordinarily well (again). I wish so much love and blessings to you and your family, and to JA. And you are right, life is too short. Go out and live it. Love you Lalia.

  2. I feel your pain. I recently lost my cousin to cancer. He was the most genuine full of life guy you would ever want to meet. He leaves behind a wife and 2 young children. His wish for everyone that he announced a few hours before he died was to live life their way and to think of him whenever something p*ssed them off then he could stick two fingers up at them from Heaven (or wherever you believe we end up) and we could shrug it off and get on with our own lives. Hugs to you, but try to remember that life is for the living and LIVE. x

  3. This is a relevant post for me too as one of my dearest friends is very sick right now and I just keep hoping and praying that he will pull through just like every single time in the past. Life is indeed too short and now more than ever, I know that each moment is an opportunity to make it known to the ppl we love what we truly feel about them. Keep strong Lalia.

  4. Lots of hugs to you. I hope you reach out to him before he passes and tell him what you just told us, I think it would mean a lot to him. XOXO


  5. John Donne is often quoted when the topic of mortality, grief, death, loss, etc. comes up, but even so I think it deserves repeating. I like his writing on this because I feel it honors the living and the dead, but also I think it compels us to pay our respects to those who have passed because we know we too will be joining them. Death is not a lonely place. We all go there. Anyway, here is a bit from Meditation XVII:

    Perchance he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that.

    No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."

  6. Live the life of your dreams. And do it now. Anyway you look at it, we're all running out of time.

  7. I hear you Lalia. Take heart that now you recognize what needs to be done, you still have time to seek fulfillment.

  8. As you say, life is too short. I also find that growing old sucks. It only brings more problems. I hope that your friend will read this post. It will make him happy. Take care and hugs to you.

  9. Life is indeed brief, and the present is all we have. Live in it.,