Thanks for the memories

I’ve had bittersweet emotions lately. I’ve been on some fun adventures in the last few months, today is Thanksgiving and I even have a couple family members in town. In other words, life is good.

But at the back of my mind, I keep thinking of a friend. He’s also been on some fun adventures in the last few months, and he’s with family for Thanksgiving. The difference is that he’s battling inoperable cancer and last week started hospice care. He’s young, he’s had a good attitude about it, he’s tried to find cures, he’s prayed. It hasn’t worked. He’s a good guy who works for the Red Cross, takes photos, plays music. But that’s not enough.

I’ve lost a couple friends to cancer, and I was able to publish articles about them. One was Arcelia, who I remember every Thanksgiving: Back when I was a young-20-something with no family nearby, she insisted that I spend the holiday with her family. Another was Andy, an Internet friend I’d met in person, and whose death came so very quickly after his unexpected cancer diagnosis.

Now there’s Jim, who is just about the same age Andy was when we lost him so suddenly in 2006. Jim’s diagnosis also didn’t come long ago. And he is also an Internet friend. He found me through my work and liked my writing, so he’d periodically visit my former employer’s website and catch up on my articles. (Come to think of it, I don’t know if he’s read those two articles I linked). I didn’t even know him until after I left my job; he noticed my lack of articles, then found me on facebook. I suppose the story sounds odd to those not in the “internet world,” but I’ve been in it for a dozen years and can distinguish the frauds from the legitimate people. Jim is legit.

In the last week, I have found myself repeatedly checking Jim’s facebook wall for any updates. On Thanksgiving, when I’m hanging out with my family, I’m still going to be checking. I can’t help it, and it’s nice to see people posting comments of cheer.

In the last few days, I’ve gone to a couple websites where a bunch of us posted messages when Andy died. More than five years later, I saw that someone last posted a message two weeks ago. I smiled, because it means that Andy hasn’t been forgotten. And then I smiled again, because I love the fact that memories of Andy make me smile. That’s the best legacy to leave.

Today, when so many people are giving thanks, I’m thankful that I’ve met so many amazing friends. To all my friends and family, both here and gone: I’m thankful that you’ve left lasting impressions and memories. I’m thankful that you’ve supported me and encouraged me. And I’m thankful that you’ve unknowingly put life into perspective and inspired me to live it to the fullest.

For those still in this world, know that when you do leave, I will not forget you.

4 Responses to Thanks for the memories

  1. My prayers are with Jim and his family this Thanksgiving. Lately I’ve had a lot to be thankful for, I’ve had to face a couple hard and close realities and I’m spending the holiday far away from my husband, and yet I’m still alive. I’m still well, healthy and happy.
    Life is hard. There isn’t much we can do when the diagnosis is terminal cancer. All we can do is hope they leave without pain and without regret. We hope their family can move forward and bring more life and love to this world to those that are still living on it.
    Have a Happy Thanksgiving and I’m glad Jim and his family have this holiday together.

  2. Happy Thanksgiving, Layla. I wish I had something encouraging to say but honestly, what’s happening to Jim sucks. It’s very sweet of you to honor him here…keeping you both in my thoughts today.

  3. Avatar Linda Helling
    Linda Helling says:

    Thanks for your post. I am a co worker of Jim…such a fascinating man. He has done so many interesting things, it is so fun listening to his stories and looking at his AMAZING pictures, I wish there would be ALOT more. It is great to know he has touched so many lives near and far! Happy Thanksgiving to you and Jim he sure is in my thoughts and prayers today, even more than EVER! Take care Jim. THANKS!

  4. I’m glad you are able to share Thanksgiving with relatives.
    Talk to you soon.
    <3 Mom