Balance in the Dichotomy

Originally published June 27, 2007

It amazes me at times the vastness of events and emotions that I experience in a given stretch of time….

I awoke this morning to discover that I won $150 playing the mega millions last night, the day before I will bury a friend of 17 years. Elation and profound sadness make for strange bedfellows. As always, my focus is aimed squarely on the good, the possible, without which each day is mundane and pointless. At the same time there is deep perspective to be gained through the loss of a friend, particularly one who passed so ahead of his time.

Considering my medical history and that of my family, I have over the years become vividly aware of the possibility of death. I have never looked forward to it, never hoped for it, but all the while have become cognizant of it’s unforeseen appearance. It’s a fair statement that in my experience I have dealt with it more than most people my age. I have attended more funerals than I can recall, having served as a pall bearer 8 times at last count, tomorrow to be 9. The routine has become familiar.

In this case it is the more painful, as a young man of 32 should not be lost, especially not under the circumstances that lead to his demise. The transformation we all watched him undergo was gradual, and not easy. Ginsberg, in Howl wrote “I have seen the greatest minds of my generation destroyed by madness – starving, hysterical , naked….” these words seem rather fitting this day.

In the same breath, I am innundated with memories that bring me joy, and peace. From times before the demons came, when he was simply that kid full of life and possibility….strange transformations may tarnish a man’s legacy, but only if we as friends fail to hold tight to the memory of why a man became a friend to begin with.

I suppose there is some sanctity in the fact that his pain is over, this is what people tell you when they know you are mourning someone gone from horrific circumstance. It is a true statement in this case, very much so….not what I wish to hear, but indeed what I need to hear. Despite my optimistic forecast of the world around me, there are cases when one’s plate is simply too full, and relief is in the thinnest of veins a blessing.

Martin Luther King once spoke ” The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”. Simply spoken, if one can see clearly when the sun has set, his perspective becomes all the more potent. I hold tight to that thought today, tomorrow, and the next, and the next…

I miss my friend, but at least there will be peace in the valley tonight.

May the road rise to meet you Bobby, and may you get to heaven at least an hour before the devil know’s you’re dead.

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