Thursday, December 13, 2012

On Friends Approaching Death

Last Summer Lois and I went to my 45th High School Class Reunion. We were sobered by the number of my classmates who had died since the 40th Reunion. Last Fall Lois flew back to Ohio for her 40th high School Reunion, which had been postponed by the unexpected death a year earlier of one of her classmates, one who had been central to the social life of the graduating class.

This past week we learned of the death of two people in Steinbach. One was the editor of The Carillon, a 66-year old man with a wide and good influence in the community. The other was our neighbour across the street. Last winter Pat phoned Lois when I was shovelling the driveway. “Tell Daryl to be careful so he doesn’t have a heart attack!” This week she was curling with friends and died herself of a heart attack (if I have the report right), at age 73. So many people dying—no more than usual, but now I’m noticing it more.

Then today I saw the email from someone in my graduating class. Another friend from high school days, Jeff, has Lou Gehrig's disease (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS)—perhaps another six months to live. I’d like to see him before he dies if I can. The email also named two more of our classmates who have died since our reunion in June. I heard a news report that 60 is the new 40. Seems to me more like 60 is the new 80.

None of this is new: References to the shortness of life abound in literature. One of my favourite lines comes from Measure for Measure: “If I must die, I will encounter darkness as a bride and hug it in my arms.” I don’t know of course. We all come to the same moment. I want to approach it with courage, but may find myself like Claudio (who faces death with such words) seeking a way out, any way out.

It is the path we walk. Death and life woven together in seamless beauty. For friends in Pennsylvania, and friends here in Manitoba. For all of us.

1 comment:

KGMom said...

I understand these ruminations entirely. I think it is part of the condition of growing older--being thoughtful about an event that will occur regardless of what we do. So, we think about it.