Martin Luther said, “Who fears hell runs toward it.”

February 8, 2008

It’s so beautiful outside today.

Last night, during a phone conversation with my sister on her cellphone headset as she made her two hour evening commute home from West Palm to Miami, I learned the friend from Battle Creek that I referred to in my earlier exhortations to donate to the leukemia and lymphoma society passed away. She had not been sick very long. I expected to hear that she was going through treatment and that things were uncertain. I had—forgotten is the wrong word, because it is something more willful than that–refused to consider that cancer is sometimes an illness that doesn’t give always people a year or two years to fight. She was 26.

We went to different schools, so I knew her mostly from our mid-teens, when we would sometimes end up shuffled together for some county-wide purpose or other. She had a goofy sense of humor that she was confident enough to let show at an age when most of us were busy hiding ourselves. She was a generous person even then, and incredibly intelligent.

We weren’t close, but I suppose I see enough of myself in her to have her death stop me utterly in my tracks, which too often of late have been going around and around in circles of second-guessing and self-imposed regret.

So, I don’t mean to be a downer on a Friday, but right at this moment I am feeling more than ever the need to remind myself (more than anyone who might read this, although I don’t know, maybe it will speak to you too) that there is an end to opportunity. There is an end to opportunity, and it isn’t getting the wrong degree, taking the wrong job, moving to the wrong city, getting a rejection letter, or screwing up a big project at work. It isn’t any of those things. None of those things are the end of anything, not while you are still lucky enough to breathe.

A moratorium on cranky Tuesday’s that last all week, tears over spilt milk on the roads not taken, hating Florida, thinly and not so thinly veiled forms of self-pity, complaining about getting a year older every year. I won’t always be happy, but I will no longer let myself be the cause of my own suffering if I can physically help it. I just won’t. I can’t do anything for Carol, anymore, but she, amazingly, is still doing something to help me.


2 Responses to “Martin Luther said, “Who fears hell runs toward it.””

  1. SOS Says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your friend. I received similar news about a colleague I use to work with at the paper. I wouldn’t say we were friends; we worked together a couple of times (he was a reporter), and I remember thinking he was handsome and charismatic. I had read one of his stories just a few weeks ago. When I returned home from the NY trip, Spence broke the news to me, and I nearly fell flat on my face. Completely unexpected. I’ve been dwelling on that randomness quite a bit lately. This is a rough time for me in general, because my father passed away two years ago Feb. 19th, so the days leading up to that day have particular memories attached to them because I was with him during that time. So, receiving this news regarding the reporter-acquaintance has put my brain on overtime regarding life and death, and what it means to be alive. You end your post very eloquently about no longer being the cause of your own suffering if you can help it. I’m with you on this. I have my own demons in my head (as we all do) that make me over-inflate the importance of things that mean next-to-nothing in the scheme of life. I stress over these things, and spend inordinate amounts of my time to focus on these things.
    And then I think of the reporter, and I think of dad, and it makes me readjust my view of the world. Remembering the two of them makes me shift my thinking. It’s an exercise, but it’s one worth doing…and it keeps their memory with me.

    And, again, I’m sorry to hear about Carol.

  2. […] February 9, 2008 I had been planning to do a post like this when February 19th drew nearer, but reading SJ’s eloquent and touching post about the death of her friend Carol inspired me to write it now. The post was to be in memory of my […]

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