“Yeah! He was just a youngin’ here. Handsome. This couldn’ta been too much more before I met him. I sure loved him in that uniform.”
“You look jus like ‘im. ‘Specially when he was young.”
The two stare at the photograph, lost in their own thoughts. Her grandmother begins to sing.
“ ‘Sometimes I wonder why I spend such lonely nights …
“I got the pictures. Now we eat. That was the deal.”
“ ‘The melody haunts my reverie. And I am once again with you.’ ”
“Come on sing wit me Baby. I know you know the words. ‘When our love was new–”
“ ‘Each kiss an inspiration.’ ”
They both sing.
“ ‘But that was long ago, now my consolation
Is in the stardust of a song
Beside a garden wall
When stars are bright!
And you are in my arms
The nightingale tells his fairy tale
A paradise where roses bloom’ ”
Now there is only one voice.
“ ‘Though I dream in’ … come on Nana this is the best … Nana?”
“No. No. No No No No No. No. Nana wake up please. Please wake up.”
“Baby. Finish the song.”
“I can’t. Don’t leave me, not now, I need you.”
“I ain’t neva goin’ nowhere. I’m gone always be here. Now finish it.”
“ ‘Though I dream in vain
in my heart it will remain
My stardust melody
The melody of love’s refrain’ “
When I was thirteen or so I was plagued with thoughts of and feared death so badly that I could hardly sleep at night. Even now a fleeting thought of my ultimate demise can leave me frozen with fear. The only difference now though is that I’m more accepting of the idea than my thirteen year old self could ever have been. When I have my moments these days, I first try embrace the thought. I then say to myself, “Okay, so you’re going to die. So what are you going to do now?” This helps me immensely by: a) getting me through the moment and all the feelings that come with it, and b) deepening the meaning of the life I’m living today.
Although the concept of “living while we’re alive” has become almost cliche and that unless literally faced with a life threatening situation, most people will struggle with applying this concept to their lives; It doesn’t make the need for its application any less immediate. I don’t believe that there is much more that I can say that hasn’t been said already about the loss of Steve Jobs. It is a profound one, but one we knew was coming. As did he. When first faced with Pancreatic cancer, he made a choice; he chose to live. In the time between his diagnosis and his death, Jobs lead the charge in changing technology in ways that would affect the lives of millions, all while doing something he absolutely loved doing.
No, I know my efforts don’t have to be as seismic as Jobs’, but the passion with which I live my life should be. What do we have to lose by living life fearlessly? Not a damn thing ;). In recovery, or in one of scores of self help books I’ve mulled through there was a quotation about birth and death dates that boils down to this: There’s your birth date and your death date, what really matters is the dash in between.
The saddest part of being an addictive personality for me is my amazing ability to be in a room full of people and still feel intensely alone. Alone. A word no one really likes to hear and a reality no one really likes to live, but the fact is as the adage goes: Born alone. Die alone. Even in between this great alpha and omega there is still a hell of a lot of you time. Time we fill trying to stuff with stuff and we stuff and we stuff and we stuff stuff stuff stuff. Ultimately all this stuffing ever leaves you is empty with a sick belly…sorta like eating a thousand pounds of cotton candy.
I am not nor will I probably ever be a new age guru, but I have after much stuffing, sick bellying, and growth learned that being alone is something that must be accepted. It must be accepted in the way that I have to accept that I will never have a relationship with my father. He is gone. I cannot change that, so I must accept. Getting to the magical land of acceptance is some whole other shit. It has so far involved finding myself alone (or at least feeling alone), realizing it, and then not trying to do anything to change the feeling. I’ll be honest. It sucks. But just like storm clouds, the feeling passes. I am even, at times, able to enjoy being by myself. A wise man recently told me that he adores solitude. He more than accepts it, he embraces it. I’m not quite there yet, but I do get peeks and glimpses of solitudes potential, and what I see. I like.