Tuesday 29 May 2018

Thought Picnic: On the sudden passing of friends

On the cycle of life
It happens every time, first, you’re overcome with shock and then a numbness when you hear the news. Your mind then races into the recesses of your memory, opening closets and pulling out drawers, looking under tables and dusting off tops seeking the snatches of moments that defined relationships that signified friendship and more.
An emptiness descends upon yon the midst of the depressing circumstances, as realisation dawns on you that what you heard is true even if you have no other means to verify the story. As you reflect, you begin to compose yourself in ascertaining the right order, form and delivery of words of comfort and sympathy to express, none of which is easy.
On searching and yearning
Questions come and go, many of which would never be answered, for there is none in the extended surviving ones to relate to on the matters personal as one would have easily been able to do with the principal. Too many instances of unanswered questions like these that plague the curiosity makes one wonder if friendship is ever complete without having a friend of the friend in that circle of friends.
Beyond this is the need of someone close you can just chat to, unburden yourself of the suddenness of the sad tidings rather than have it churn within you. In our mortal vulnerability, we all need a touch of humanity with which to absorb the issues of life and death that makes up experience.
On realisation and fortune
Then part of the reflection you have especially when circumstances are revealed in the shortest delivery of missives pertains to self, the thought of similar bouts and different outcomes. For one, it is that we survived, for another, it is that they did not.
That they did not, does not mean they could not, cancer, as much as it is understood is also misunderstood. For each, and there are many different kinds from benign to aggressive, from treatable through palliative to completely untreatable.
In that mix, as I learn in my own experience is the ability of one’s physiology to withstand the poisonous and gruesome onslaught of medication, beyond hope, if there is any, we can only watch and wait, hoping for the best or accepting the worst.
On mortality and memory
For every time I am told a friend died of cancer, I sense within me a vulnerability like I die a little, saddened and grieved by the news that the encounter once again took away a soul too soon.
Then, too many times the news comes completely out of the blue, and all we are left with are flashes of the last time we met, when the goodbyes were meant to mean, till we meet again, not a final salute to a friendship and life that in many ways was well lived.
He was a colleague, a gentleman, typically with old English reserve, very affable and amiable, I liked him a lot. A year into our working relationship, he retired, but much of the work and documentation he left with us, proved useful, long after he had departed.
The team found times to meet up, we met at one of the pubs in town for a drink where he regaled us with lots of extracurricular activities he was engaged in with his wife in the community. For all intents and purposes, he seemed an active healthy man. Yet, he passed on last week after a short battle with cancer.
Adieu Nick, may you travel well and rest in peace.

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