It's been kind of a tough week here at the Chateau D'Zaster this past week. I've been having a difficult time absorbing it all. A good friend of mine had been sick for a while with a somewhat manageable, but untreatable form of cancer. If you're a regular reader, you probably have heard me mention him before. I've known him for about 18 years. We met when we were working for the same company and became fast friends. Even after I left the company we often did things together including paddling, building boats and just spending time together. It was his kind gift of an old wood stove that kept my family warm in a house we'd bought that had electric heat. As an individual, he was kind, funny, creative and irreverent who enjoyed his friends and a good time. His girlfriend, at the time, now his wife, was the sister of a high school classmate - a fact I didn't figure out until I'd known them for almost a year.
For the past three years, friends and neighbors have brought in the firewood to keep he and his wife warm for the winter. It was one of the few things that we could actively do to help other than spending time with them. Reflecting on the wood cutting parties, I can honestly say that I was humbled to be able to be a part of such a great group of people.
He was very fortunate in that his wife is a nurse. She was able to help him and communicate with his doctors and nurses about his condition and needs. She's a wonderful lady and an incredibly strong person.
Last Friday, we got a call to let us know that his situation had taken a sudden and dramatic turn for the worse. He had been fighting an infection that was probably a result of his immune system being compromised by the treatment that he was receiving, but his system couldn't hold out. Although we would have all wished him to stay with us, that was not meant to be. Ultimately, his body began to shut down and his wife was left with the decision to remove life support. She was able to be with him when he finally passed on last Saturday.
A memorial service will take place this Saturday and friends and neighbors will gather again. This time to remember him in our own way. I think it will be filled with fond memories and hope to be able to both give and receive some small measure of comfort in being amongst this good company. I think that my friend would be disappointed in us if we didn't gather together and have a good time.
For DS and DD this week, it hasn't been easy, either. In addition to my friend, who was like a favorite uncle to them, they're probably going to lose their pet. We had two gerbils that we took in from a neighbor - a father and his son - and lost the father last fall at a ripe, old age. The remaining gerbil, who has also had a long life, is slowly slipping away. He's been sleeping more and eating and drinking less, even when offered some of his favorite things. It seems that it's just his time. He will probably join his father tonight - slipping away peacefully in his sleep.
It just seems to have been a series of hard lessons in loss this week. And we can't change that.
I think the best words that I can think of are those from the poet and writer Kahlil Gibran:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your
laughter rises was oftentime filled with your tears...
When you are joyous, look deep into
your heart and you shall find it is only
that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in
your heart, and you shall see that in truth
you are weeping for that which has been your delight.