Friday, September 26, 2014

While I Wasn't Watching, You Died

For various reasons, I withdrew from my old friends for decades.  I'm not exactly sure why.  My life has been adventurous, but it has also been complicated and somewhere in that whirl of living my focus failed to keep an eye on many people that I loved or at least liked.

I have trouble comprehending time.  It is one of my defects.  I've written about this before.  One day, one week, one month, one year, one decade... they all seem the same to me.  My view of time is not linear.  It is more like the event horizon of a black hole, where the image of everything that has passed into the hole is forever frozen in space/time.  The whole past is just yesterday.  Given this, I lack the sense of urgency over how long ago I last saw someone and when I see them again, aside from the physical changes that time has wrought, I see the same person as if no time has passed.  It is debilitating in some ways, for every passed injury feels like it happened yesterday, not years ago.  That makes it harder to move on from things that did not go right.  I have compensated for this by becoming more detached in general, learning to quickly and immediately let everything go, much in the way Buddhism teaches unattachment.

Recently, becoming increasing aware of my own mortality, I decided to find those people I love but haven't seen for many years.  I already knew that my first girlfriend had passed back in 1991.  I still miss her and love her and always will.  I looked up several other women I loved, and to my horror I found that they had passed on several years ago.  I cried when I found out that Maria D., a romantic interest in college, had died of cancer in her forties.  Though I had not seen her since 1985, I always saw the world as a place that contained her wonder and beauty.  Knowing that she was now gone deflated my world some.  I then looked for another that I had a crush on in High School.  She too died in her forties, also of cancer.  I began to fear looking back into the past and finding people.  Three women I had cared for are dead, long before their time.  With the loss of each one, the world I love seems less what it was.

I also looked for my male friends.  My best friend Paul is still alive and I had the pleasure of visiting him last weekend.  A mutual friend of ours, Carmen, died just a few months ago.  My Father died last year.

I visited my first girlfriend's mother to help the two of us remember her daughter's life.  She shared with me photos of my first girlfriend and I scanned them.  I read with her my diary from the time I first met and fell in love with her daughter.  I had written poems about her.  I had notes from our phone calls.  I showed her a dimension of her daughter that she never experienced herself.  I felt as if this lost beloved was with us a moment.  I also very much enjoyed letting her mother know that her daughter is remembered as well as having the opportunity to fill some of the loneliness in the mother's life, even if only for an evening.

Life is short.  Every life is precious.  I will take the time to let those still with us know how much I love them.

This song and video remind me of her.

The Fall

Life is like falling from one hundred million miles above. It starts out slow and the destination seems so far away that it is easy to believe you will never arrive, but the descent accelerates all the way to the end, as the Earth looms ever larger, until it is no longer the Earth, but a continent, and then a field, and then a hole in the ground. In those final fleeting seconds, the whole thing begins to make sense, but by the time it does, it's over.