Last week, I attended a memorial service for the third of three of my childhood friends who have passed on in the past six months – two from cancer and one from suicide. A younger neighbor that I adore is struggling with cancer. She is only 45. Today, I read in the newspaper about one of my former colleagues I worked on a variety of community projects with is a member of a newly formed group called The Club, a group for people dealing with early on-set dementia. At the same time, I see plenty of my friends taking up running or other sports but my body keeps surprising me with things like bursitis and a hiatal hernia reminding me once again that any control I think I have is illusory.
Somehow, I didn’t really expect all of this at age 52. I am feeling very tender. This is a word my mother-in-law would use. She sometimes uses words in a bit “off” context since English isn’t her first language but somehow tender seems just right. I feel a bit bruised, emotional, surprised . . . tender. I thought that all of this would come later.
Of course, I know that life is finite. I have buried great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and my father-in-law more or less in the order that it “should” be but also two brother-in-laws, a sister-in-law and some friends before their time. There is something about the last six months that is pushing the idea of finite, of limited time front and center. That realization that there isn’t always plenty of time in the future to connect with someone who matters or to do that special something is getting bigger teeth. I am feeling more urgency about the idea that sometimes time just runs out. Some of the amazing things I see others do, won’t be the amazing things that I do.
I have been trying to spend time with a family member who is very important to me but life’s roadblocks are getting in the way. I have been frustrated by some of the lack of helpfulness I have encountered when trying to get family members together for my Dad’s 80th birthday this summer. Time especially feels unfriendly when you have an elder whose health has been on a downswing – with dementia and diabetes, and cancer in remission will Dad pass before or after he forgets who we are? But then I remember, not everyone is feeling the same thing that I am and others have pressures that I cannot see. I guess all we can do is do what the priest said to the mourners at the memorial service who had gathered to support the family and honor my friend who left this world too soon, “be together in love.”
Be together in love. I like that. That I can do with whomever I am with.