Life is a little crazy right now. We do not know the full effect of the coronavirus, the stock market is struggling, and we’re not sure if we need to cancel plans for summer or wait it out.
Last Friday I was meant to be leaving for Catalina Island to be able to do the Marathon on Saturday morning. Don’t be too impressed—they have a hiking section and that was how I was going to do the 26.2 miles. I had been training for five months and was ready to go. I was packed, my dog taken care of, and I was mentally prepared.
Then I got an email saying it was cancelled. I felt a little lost after canceling the accommodation, the flight over and back, and making sure everyone in our group was notified.
As I was not going to be running Saturday, I went out with a friend for happy hour. He shared how his mom is dying and his work is unstable, and was pretty emotional about it.
On my way home from work I stopped at my friend’s house who has cancer to tell her my race was cancelled. She had been asking about my training and I kept telling her I was running for her. She was sleeping when I showed up, so I said I would be back in the morning to see her. At 4:36 a.m. she passed.
The family called me, and I was able to go over and say my goodbye’s.
A few years back my best friend and I had a falling out and we have not spoken since. I don’t think it is repairable; however I think of her nearly every day and it is her birthday tomorrow. I wish I could celebrate it with her. It makes me feel sad.
Then as I am writing this article, I get a text from a friend who told me she has stage four cancer.
All this is feeling overwhelming and unstable. What now?
Life is messy. It truly is. My story is not much different than others. We go through periods of things being somewhat stable and then, boom—something else happens.
Sometimes they happen in pockets like this. I’m tired right now but know just like in the past, this time will pass.
My friend had cancer for four years and really lived two years more than most people would have. She had a good life. She had climbed to Everest Base Camp, been to 83 countries, studied in India, supported and pretty much raised her nephews and niece and would give you the shirt off her back. She touched so many people. She loved my brownies and I was always happy to make them for her.
So what now? We pick up the pieces. We stay in gratitude for those we have loved and lost. Most of all, it reminds me to always be kind, always be willing to help people. Yes, it takes time from our day that is already busy enough. But what is more important than relationships?
Relationships are what life is about. It is hard sometimes to take heed of this. We get so caught up in making sure that other things are fed before our relationships. But trust me here. This is what I do for a living. I help people and I mainly help them have healthy relationships even if it is with themselves.
Studies show that relationships improve our health, our sense of belonging, our creativity, and our happiness. This crosses gender, nationality and age. Relationships give meaning and purpose to life.
From an article I read from theDivest website, it stated that relationships even decrease our stress level, and many of the studies showed that people with strong social relationships are 50 percent less likely to die prematurely and they can add three years to our life expectancy. Other articles and studies have made the same statements. Bottom line, relationships make our messy lives more doable.
And yet, relationships can also be messy. Being vulnerable is not always easy. Building trust and being able to repair is challenging at times. Along with that, we can lose these people. They can leave, they can die. Yet I look at the losses I have had with friends and even though there is sadness and pain around those loses, I would not do it any differently. I am in pain, I am tired and I am so glad I got to have my friend as part of my life for the time I had with her. That will never change.
There is nothing better than to be known by another: our good, our bad and everything in between. It is a gift. And yes, that relationship someday will end. If we are known by someone for a day, a month, a year or a lifetime, it is a gift.
Most of us have heard the words by Alfred Lord Tennyson: ‘’Tis better to have loved and lost Than never to have loved at all.”
So thank you Perla for being a gift. Both of my friends I have lost were a gift that I will hold forever even though neither of these people are here with me. The gifts of them will stay with me forever. I know that for sure.