Seems that when we’re younger we believe life will be as static as we’ve seen it all those years, until unforeseen tragedies happen that catch us off guard, and they force us to grow up. While the last few weeks have been extremely difficult, I can’t say I was totally unprepared.
It started only a few weeks back, when my buddy Craig, his friend Paul (yes another Paul), and myself, all took a road trip up to the Berkshires (Massachusetts for those who don’ know). Craig is an deep and intriguing fellow, and a great friend who I met as an RA, whom I reunited with on 9/11/01, on AOL Instant Messenger; but that’s another story.
I don’t know anyone who loves Star Wars as much as he does (and if you don’t believe me, just check out the tattoo of the Rebel Alliance on his bicep), and we’ve got the chance to check out some large events in cinematic history such as Opening Night of SWE3ROTS, Jaws on the big screen at Bryant Park, and finally what brought us to the Berkshires in the first place: The Boston Pops Orchestra, Conducted by John Williams, Narrated by James Earl Jones, Solo by YoYo Ma, and enjoyed by Stephen Spielberg, and the rest of us.
The highlight of course, was not necessarily the experience of seeing some of my favorite film music performed live by the people who created the legend in the first place, but it was rather something that caught me off guard. You see, an elderly woman who had the same aura of Lucille Bluth from FOX’s Arrested Development, was passed out, head tilted back, mouth wide open, riding that thin line between heavy breathing and snoring, during one of Yoyo Ma’s solos. And while the rest of the audience was hushed to a deafening silence, I took one look at the glistening of drool on her overly made-up lips that was being pulled towards the floor, as gravity so dictated, and I bust out into uncontrollable laughter that was not only mildly disruptive, it was also contagious.
Later on that evening as I was driving to Boston, I had this strange thought as I made my way towards Springfield, MA at around 1AM. A sudden thought occurred to me “I don’t deal with loss very well.” Huh? Who said that? The thought popped into my mind like the flash of a camera-phone, awkward but somehow effective. “Paul, loss is the one thing you don’t deal well with at all. What’s going to happen if you lose a loved one? It may happen someday.” After wrestling with these facts and trying to push them out of my mind for 30 minutes, I gave up, and surrendered and sat with myself and accepted the fact that, yes, loss is something I don’t take gracefully, especially involving people I love; for you see, I’ve been at too many funerals for someone my age, and have never gotten used to them.
I figured I might as well admit this fact, because, acceptance is the first step towards growth? I think Dr. Phil said that.
Not 20 minutes after this long dialogue with my inner-consciousness had come to a conclusion, I received an email from my Uncle Mak, letting me know that he’d been diagnosed with cancer of the liver. I closed the email, then the words took a few minutes to actually sink in. Tears, swig of beer, Kleenex, email. You have to understand the relationship between me and my Uncle. He is one of my heroes in life. He’s taught me so much about life, and about loving others, and standing up for what is true. I have a feeling my big mouth is somewhat owed to him. I didn’t quite understand what was happening, and why my Uncle, the man who I considered a saint, had to go through something like this. He is the head of our extended family on my mom’s side, here in the States and overseas. The voice of reason, the mediator, the one who will travel thousands of miles to offer his guidance during times of trouble. He is also someone who I’ve definitely taken for granted at times. I guess we all do it. We think our loved ones will be here forever.
The next day an email clarified by him let me know that, while it looks like it is cancer, they will do a biopsy to know for sure. We spoke soon after, and I was amazed at what he told me. Even in a moment where no one would even think twice about feeling bad for someone, his only concern was everyone else around him. “Paul, the further away I am from my body, the closer I am to the Lord.” He went on to explain to me how this urges him on even more, to live every day to fulfill the purpose he believes that God put him on this earth to do. In illness, even, he shines like the brightest star.
A week later, he goes on to volunteer with my Aunt Barbara as physicians at a Young Life camp, and life goes on as usual. He just got the biopsy done today, and we’re all waiting for the results. I know in my heart that he’s gonna be ok, no matter what happens, and I can’t help but feel grateful that I was, even briefly, somehow prepared for receiving the news. While I want things to stay the same, and be as static as I’ve known them to be, I am learning to just accept, and be thankful for what I have. And maybe even what I don’t have control over.
But sometimes it’s just difficult.