Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Long, Strange Trip

My best friend and I are in a rough patch, and one of the things 
she said yesterday was that she was worried about me because I 
am "obsessed with death." I was taken aback, because I don't see 
myself obsessed with death at all, and because I've always 
been obsessed with death. And there you have perhaps the perfect 
description of my strangely dichotomous being. 

I have more death-related memories than any other set except for 
those involving light and pattern.  A large part of that is probably 
due to growing up as I did, traveling the world, experiencing the 
world in a more adult way than most children.  So AM I obsessed 
with death? Perhaps with the paraphernalia and trappings thereof, 
but not with death itself. 

In the past 9 months, seven friends, five of them extremely close
at one time of my life or another, have died. My closest friend on 
the planet for the past 25+ years, my closest friend in high school, 
the boy who gave me the greatest kiss of the last 45 years, 
another dear, dear friend from high school, and a friend from 
another time, another place...all suddenly gone, far, far too soon. 
And yes, losing your friends makes you think about your own 

And so it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut said. Life is strangely 
long, and short, both simultaneously. I have begun to wonder, as 
my father did fairly constantly toward the end of 96 years, "how 
long is this going to go on?"  Will I, like him, be the last one 
standing?  Do I have to watch everyone I know and love fall off the 
earth?  How did my father endure the loss?  How will I?  But endure 
I will, for I have little choice, really.  As often as I've contemplated 
it, suicide is not an option.  No, I'll go on, and I will do my best to 
enjoy life for all those friends who die before me. One aspect of 
the recent losses I find comforting is the sense that all those friends are at my elbow whenever I need them, lending me their love.  And that's a very nice feeling.

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