My friend Jeannie died suddenly this week from a brain aneurysm. She was the same age as me, 44, and a literature/history enthusiast. I knew her for probably close to 10 years; I stopped counting awhile ago. I never met her in person, though. I only knew her through the Internet and the occasional snail mail, but she was as real a friend as any, and I mourn her loss.
Since I've been online - 15 years, maybe? - I've made many friends that I cherish greatly even though I've never met them in person. I have laughed with them and cried with them, and they have done the same for me. My Internet family is a great support to me, in good times and bad. A personal connection is a personal connection, whether it's made in person or in cyberspace. I value them all. My Internet friends are just as real and valid as my in-person friends.
Sudden death is always jarring. It brings any unfinished business to light. It brings regret over stupid things you said or did that hurt someone's feelings. Most of all, it makes you think: that could have been me. And if it were me, what would I be leaving behind unfinished? Is there anything I need to set right before my time is up? What am I missing that needs to get done? It's an overwhelming feeling.
We've all heard the saying "live each day as if it were your last," but I'm not sure that's responsible. If I knew it was my last day, I'd spend it eating and drinking and getting into mischief, and who can do that every day? Perhaps I take that too literally, though. Maybe it has more to do with finding joy in the mundane and being at peace with your surroundings, taking in every moment you can.
We live in a fast-moving world that just keeps moving faster. It's so easy to get caught up in the hubbub before you know it, and then it's difficult to extricate yourself. I don't think there's really anything wrong with the hubbub, necessarily, but I think we need to take a tip from the yogic tradition here and just be mindful of what's going on around us and how it affects us. If you like the chaos, go ahead and jump in, but pay attention: that way, you get to actually enjoy the craziness, plus, you can jump off the wagon before you get overwhelmed.
(I ramble; please forgive me. My brain is full of things right now that can't get past the limitations of the English language.)
Jeannie, I raise a glass to you, and count myself fortunate to have known you. I will miss your fire, your wit, and your wisdom. Thank you for being my friend.
Till next time --- y'all quit your meanness and love each other. And pay attention.