Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Death and Other Eventualities

I am going to a memorial service today for a young man, just turned 30, who died last Monday of an aortic aneurysm. He had suffered miserably in his short life with a medical condition that is too awful to detail. We all knew it would kill him, but we all viewed that as a detached, remote sort of a thing. And now, here it is. Not detached. No longer remote. We did that to protect ourselves, meanwhile sacrificing him.

I wonder what it was like for him with all of us being so ..... detached.....(?) from the reality of his impending death. It certainly couldn't have been emotionally comforting to him. Our from-a-distance perspective made us feel better: yes we know he's going to die, but we're not really spending a lot of time thinking about it. We, however, weren't the ones with death looming on our horizon. So there was a young man, sick, depressed, and alone. I think that being sick and having to face your mortality is a very isolating experience. You can't really talk to anyone because you just make people uncomfortable. The people you do talk to give you stupid advice because they haven't got a clue about what is really going on with you physically and emotionally. You end up living this nightmare of a life all by yourself. It's only after you die that the people who should have been there for you all along develop some insight into what your life was actually like. Then we feel horrible about losing you, and losing the opportunity to make things a little better for you.

I, for one, can only say that I'm ashamed of myself for not taking better care of Canton, and anyone else who is living a life less than ideal. I hope that I can take this knowledge and use it the next time I encounter a very ill person. I won't be so nonchalant, nor, hopefully, ignorant of that person's experience, which is very different from my own. I will miss Canton, a great artist, a true rebel, an anarchist after my own heart.

And I will try to step outside my comfort zone the next time I meet someone who is not ever going to have a happy ending --- and try to ease their pain while ignoring my own discomfort.

I apologize Canton, for not being a better friend. I hope you have found a wild and wonderful reality and you are healthy, for the first time, ever! I hope I see you again.

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