“I just want to sit on a second floor porch, sip beer, read a book, and watch the rain. Forever.”
That’s what the bio on David’s Facebook profile read when he slipped into the coma that lasted for months and months. That’s what it reads now on the profile that acts as his memorial. People sometimes leave posts.
“Happy Star Wars Day.”
“Your cat is loving on one of your old books.”
“Was just thinking of you out of the blue.”
There are pictures of his young, beautiful, widowed wife. I can’t even imagine her heartbreak. They met in Thailand when he taught there with Greenpeace. She stayed there. He came here. Their love was so real, and he missed her those long stretches between international visits. He wanted to live with her, but things never worked out, and then it didn’t matter. His young life ended for no predictable or foreseeable reason. He was just barely 36, deeply intelligent, and a very good person.
He was the friend of a family friend. Though he lived in town, and actually in my old apartment complex, we only knew each other online. Busy lives kept it that way. Yet, we bonded over audiobooks and video games. David loved listening to audiobooks while clobbering NPCs willy nilly. I wonder now if it was a good distraction from how much he missed his wife.
I kept waiting for the moment he would wake up from his coma, and we could go back to talking about books and games. I had so much to share…still have so much to share. He did wake up, but he couldn’t understand things, couldn’t really talk. Soon after, he died, in a hospice, peacefully.
It’s a pretty common story for 2020; caring about someone, and then they die. This was how I started off my year. I’d just dared myself to wish out loud for that dream I’d held on to since I was a little girl. I didn’t just want to read books anymore; I wanted to write them. Then, just days later, David died, and I mourned him much more than I expected to. I mean, there were screaming, gasping, throat-flaying sobs ripping from my lungs in the driveway as I willed myself to drive to work. There were nights spent awake and alone. I felt like my world had shattered. It seemed…like an overreaction.
David was just a friend, an internet acquaintance, really. He wasn’t a lover or family. We weren’t that close. Why did his death hurt so much? This wasn’t my first brush with death. I’ve lost many people I care about, including people who meant the entire world to me. Why did his death hit me so hard?
It became clear once I really looked into it. What really hurt was the tragedy, the unfairness. David wasn’t reckless with his life. He worked for a bank and lived a quiet, introverted life. He shouldn’t have died. He had so much to live for. He was one of the best and brightest.
If he could die, what did that mean for me? I was a few years older than he was. I have health problems. There’s a pandemic killing off people in better health than me. I think to myself that I have decades left, but do I? Maybe, or maybe today is it. There’s no way to know. If I died today, would I have lived the life I wanted? Would David have moved to Thailand, abandoning all responsibilities, if he’d known his death was imminent?
The harsh truth was David didn’t get the life he wanted, and I wasn’t going to either, at this rate. I wanted to write books, but I was wasting my time instead. Why? Because I put everyone else above my goals, partially out of giver syndrome and partially as a protection mechanism against my genuine fear of failure. Something had to change.
This year, I wrote a book. I dare say it’s a really good one. It won’t be my best book. I’ve written another. It’s just not published yet like the first one. However, it is written, and it is better than the first. I intend to publish it next year. I plan on writing plenty and publishing them too. However, if that happens, I am lucky, so lucky. Yes, a lot of it will be due to hard work, creativity, passion, skill, and collaboration. However, any day that I wake up alive is a blessed day. Even on my worst days, I remember that deep down. No toxic positivity here, more like fully understanding that all of this is borrowed time.
What’s my point in all this? I miss my friend. I wish he were around to read my book. However, his death reminded me of something I’d forgotten. I hope that anyone reading this doesn’t have to lose someone to learn what I learned. Don’t put off your hopes and dreams. Today may be all that you have left.
I usually write about fairytales or myths. I typically have fun images to break up the text. Today, that didn’t feel right, as I remember that this will be the first Christmas David’s family has without him. Make sure that your life is worth living every day.