The message from the universe lately is very clear: life is short. So cliche' and glib and obvious. This morning it came in the form of an email from my step-sister, letting me know that one of our childhood friends' brother (also a friend, and married to another friend...) has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Specifically, "...small cell lung cancer
I've known these people most of my life...forty plus years. We've all been through a lot together, and have never lost touch over the years. This guy stuffed me head-first into a trash can once; I called him a 'queer' (as in jerk) and was promptly kicked out of the yard by his Marine father, who probably thought I was calling his son that other kind of queer (and who just recently died). We all experienced many rites of passage together, including smoking (all sorts), drinking, boyfriends, girlfriends, arguments, divorces (our parents'), marriages and children (our own). In short, they're family.
So now a member of that family is struggling with a deadly disease that seems to have taken over a majority of his important organs, and his wife and son are dealing with the prospect of seeing him through an illness that could very well take his life sooner than any of them expected.
This is another in a queue of people I know dealing with cancer: a neighbor, a co-worker's spouse, co-workers, church members, and now a friend. None of this is happening to me and yet I recognize that a message is there for me. I'm grateful for the message. I'm filled with concern and love for my friends. I'm at a loss, and yet I know that love is the best thing I can offer from afar.