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.