I've been quiet lately, uncharacteristically so. I've been thinking about something serious.
Most of us live in a bubble of delusion. We assume we'll live forever, we believe nothing bad will happen to us. Then, life steps in and shatters those illusions.
One of my closest friends was told on Friday he has a brain tumor. They're starting immediate treatment with radiation and chemo, every day for a month. It doesn't look good.
My friend's name is Geoff. He is a vibrant, smart, healthy-looking guy in his mid-forties. I met Geoff fifteen years ago when we belonged to the same motorcycle club. For some reason, Geoff gravitated toward me and is very fond of me. We've stayed close despite his two-year work-stint in England (where he met his lovely wife, Fleur) and his recent move to Maryland. We regularly make efforts to see each other and enjoy each other's company immensely.
Geoff is very smart, a quality I admire in people. He's almost-entirely self-taught because his insouciant attitude didn't mesh well with regimented schooling. Geoff is a cryptographer, which means he designs complicated security to protect huge computer systems (e.g., banks) from being hacked.
Coupled with high intelligence, Geoff has an irreverence to which I am drawn. Geoff whips off witty jokes faster than I can comprehend or stop laughing. He's a real showman and very entertaining to hang around with.
The very idea that such a great guy, in the prime of his life, can be struck down by an illness coming out of left field had me reeling all weekend. I'm struggling with how to handle it.
I came to twin conclusions. The first is obvious -- I will support Geoff in the ways he needs me, with great compassion and care. I will be there for him.
The second is less obvious: it's more a renewal of a prior commitment than something novel. I am re-commiting myself, and urging others like you, to live fully, to savor every moment. To appreciate the precious gift of life we have in front of us. I've been doing that lately with activities like this blog because I've had my own brushes with death. Eight years ago I almost died in a bad motorcycle accident and, as most of you know, I've also lost family members when they were too young. Such experiences force you to face mortality and draw important lessons about the meaning of life. I choose to give my life meaning by helping others and by living as authentically as I can. Being open on this blog and relating to you guys the way I do here is a tremendously significant act in my life. And a deeply satisfying one. We shouldn't lie on our deathbeds ruing what we could have done but didn't.
So, if you've read this far, thank you. Please pay attention to what I'm saying. I learned this lesson at a high cost and hope you can benefit from it. I hate that I may have to confront death again. Geoff is too young to die.
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So sorry to hear about your friend. I have come to realize there is no logic, what-so-ever to life and/or what happens in it. Sometimes great things happen to terrible people and sometimes terrible things happen to great ones. There is no reason, no karma, no higher meaning. That's just how life is and we all have to keep moving on our assigned path with utmost truth! As you said we all should try and find what is it that we want and try our best to get it ... even if fail ... we wouldn't have any regrets. I am too young to be imparting any wisdom or guiding anyone else ... but I do learn from other people's experiences.ReplyDelete
Again, so sorry to hear about your friends. My best wishes with his wife and family. And you, too!
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What devastating news. I shall be thinking of Geoff and hoping that his treatment beats the odds and thinking of you as you support him and his wife.ReplyDelete
I totally agree on living life to the full, for similar reasons having lost a lifetime friend far, far too young.
I am deeply sorry about your friend. I have also had these thoughts lately about living life to the fullest. My Mom died young and my younger sister recently fought thyroid cancer and won. I often worry about my life because of this and worry about my children and what will become of them if something happens. I have recently taken the proper steps to insure my kids will be well cared for because life is so uncertain. It is important to live and love the ones around you. You are right that most people are living a fantasy thinking they will live forever. I know some people who never see their family (they only live 20 minutes away from said family) because they are too busy but they will regret it later. Sorry for the long comment but I have been thinking these exact things that you are posting about.ReplyDelete
I'm so, so, so sorry to hear that. I really hope that there is still a chance for him.ReplyDelete
My family has a lot of healthproblems, like tumors
and cancer(which most of them(thankfully) survived). I grew up with people around telling me that I should enjoy life while I still can.
It's strange that most of the time people think things like this will never happen to them.
Again, I'm so, so, so sorry to hear that about your friend.
I am so sorry for your friend. Your post touched me so deeply. I'll be thinking of you ♥ReplyDelete
I'm so sorry for your friend. I pray that his treatment will work and he will beat the odds. And I'm sorry for you too, that you now have to be so strong for him. You're so right about the things you say.... Life is happening to us while we're busy making other plans. There is no plan I say - we have an obligation to live to the fullest.ReplyDelete
Again I'm so sorry for Geoff, please send him some of our warm wishes...
Thank you for this post Shybiker. it might seem weird to thank someone for a post like this but I truly appreciate your honesty. I think maybe one of the biggest mistakes we make as bloggers is that we are not personal enough. It's so weird that in this mighty technological universe where we don't really know each other, we can relate in some way to every post we read. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend, no wonder you're questioning the big things in life. Even so, it is a part of our life. For all of us. The encouragement to enjoy life is easy to overlook, we're so busy with getting on. Life is now and we should all make the most of it. Once again, thank you! I'm sending my best wishes, thoughts and dreams your way. Be strong:-)ReplyDelete
Ralph, I am very sorry to hear about your friend. I'm at a loss for the right thing to say here, so I'll have to give it some thought. This was a very well-written post.ReplyDelete
I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. You are both in my thoughts. *HUGS*ReplyDelete
I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. It's not fair that a good person has to deal with this devastating illness. It sounds like he will have wonderful support from you. That is important. Having a good friend like you during this time will be helpful to Geoff.ReplyDelete
I hear your plea for everyone to live life to the fullest. Its such a precious thing that is taken advantage by so many. Including myself. I think though it's hard to make that big commitment to change your mentality so drastically. Making commitments to smaller, manageable steps towards being grateful for life is something I try to do. Like instead of going home to veg out with a hard drink, I'll be sure to hug Chris and my critter babies.
Take care of yourself hun, do things that will bring you happiness. And rest!!! As a heath care provider, I see the toll loved ones take and the guilt they feel when taking time for themselves. But self care and self love is so important during times like these. XO I'm here if you ever need to talk, you know my email.
Thank you, guys. I'm really touched by your responses. I was apprehensive about putting up this post because it doesn't fit in with the light, breezy attitude expressed on most blogs. Then I realized it's MY blog and this is an event in my life, so I put it up not knowing how you'd respond. You all impress me and touch my heart.ReplyDelete
I hope he's going to be alright. I'm not religious, but I'll send him positive energy.ReplyDelete
He should be fine <3.
P.S. I know how that may have sounded. Just stay positive. But the most important thing is... he must stay positive as well.ReplyDelete
And don't worry, the blogging sphere has some great people in it.
I know how you feel- life is too short to let it pass you by. I'm sending positivie thoughts and wishes to your friend but the best thing for him is having great family and friends (like you) surrounding him. Even though I'm young, I struggle with morbidity, especially as I don't know what to believe in.ReplyDelete
This kind of thing is a serious reminder...thank you.ReplyDelete
I am so sorry to hear about your friend. This is just a sad reminder of how short life can be and how we must treasure each day and make sure to let the people we love know it! Hopefully everything will be ok, miracles happen everyday!ReplyDelete
I am so sorry to hear this news. It just never makes sense when someone with such zest for life gets hit with something like this. I am very appreciative of your call to remind us that this life we are living is IT. This isnt a dress rehearsal. This is IT, the one life we have. I am very present to that and to those things that I let go by each day because I am either too scared or worried about looking good to follow through. Thanks for your authentic sharing, it always makes a difference for me when I am over here visiting and I am very grateful to know you!! xox oJReplyDelete
I am so sorry to hear this and unfortunately I can totally relate to it at this same moment.ReplyDelete
The best thing you can do is just be there and ask him if there is anything you can do for him.
When an illness takes us by surprise and we know that the life expectancy is not high - it puts many things into perspective. However you must never lose faith.
In our case we are doing all we can to help her stay be as good as we can but we have put our faith on to a higher power and can only ask for strength.
I think your friend is lucky to have you around.
I wanted to say Thanks for sharing this Ralph. We are here for you and if you ever need to talk you have my email.ReplyDelete
I also wanted to say that I am impressed with your survival from your motorcycle accident. You are very strong. Your friend is lucky to have you.
sending healing, positive vibes to Geoff and to you. please tell him not to give up, and to keep hope. my father was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer and the doctors said that he'd not live to see my graduate college. that was in 2002. he is alive and well. i honestly believe (as does my dad) that part of how he made it is by not giving up. he said every patient in the care center who was down in the dumps about their situation passed away. Geoff's attitude will do wonders for his heath; and i believe that good vibes from family, loved ones, and even your readers who are strangers to him, will greatly improve his condition. focus on positivity- both for you and Geoff.ReplyDelete
you're a good friend. thank you for sharing.
I'm so sorry about your friend. I hope he can pull through this. Good luck to him...ReplyDelete
I'm s sorry to hear about your friend. News like that are never fun to hear and it is difficult to know what to say and how to act. I think it is great that you want to be there for him and your post here almost brought tears to my eyes. It was so beautiful and touching and it really is easy to forget to appreciate life.ReplyDelete
I have actually awarded you the stylish blogger award. I realise that this is difficult times for you but I can see that you have many bloggers who are here for you and we all support you. You seem like a very strong person.
Love and hugs to your friend but please dont think things may not turn out ok because I volunteer with people with varying illness and one of them actually has brain tumours and has been through gruelling therapy and is only 45, there is always hope. I too like you have had my own brush with death and I totally agree we should savour life and this is why at times I have no time for some people who just think about themselves all the time, and want want want, my experience definitely changed me for the better and I see things very differently now. So please dont give up hope for your friend and I wish him well with what he is about to undertake, you are definitely a good friend to him and I wish you well with it too xxReplyDelete
..this post is quite long, but unlike other blogs tht i read, yours is not boring until i finish each lines...keep it up, i love reading novels..tht is one of my fear to lose my love ones, thts wht made me think when a fight is about to start, wht if this person is dying, or me?and i did'nt say or show i love him today?..i had once asked my husband if why don't we get a motorcycle, y'knw, i love the gangster look...but he said, its a death trap...pls b careful all the time...p.s, knowing your wife is a scrapbook artist, tht passion is full of love, irregardless of the materials we use and need.ReplyDelete
thank you for the sweet greetings...
Thank you for being such an inspiration and reminding us to live!ReplyDelete
I believe life is all about challenges and lessons and how we come through them and what we learn and how we apply that to our lives is of the utmost important. I think that having someone as awesome as you alongside would be calming and reassuring no matter what life is dealing. Geoff is blessed for having you in his life and we are blessed in having you share yourself and your life with us.
Thank you for being a truly inspiring being and for sharing as you do.
I'm really sorry to hear about this, Ralph. My thoughts are with you, Geoff and Fleur during this very difficult time.ReplyDelete
Please let me know if I can do anything for you.
I was so saddened to read this...for him, his wife and family, and you. This weekend was spent trying to help a friend who lost her father too young (he was too young, and she DEFINITELY is). We may not know the "whys" behind these things while we're on this side of them. But I have to believe there's a reason, even for the worst things, or else I'd have no hope. When my mom died, for several years, I couldn't even begin to fathom that there could be any sort of purpose behind it. While I still really can't, I have to believe there was one. I can't allow myself to believe these things happen randomly or in vain, or else it would hurt even worse, if that's possible. My thoughts are with all of you during this time. I hope he is able to find some sort of peace and that his treatment will be effective.ReplyDelete
Such awful news about Geoff! My heart goes out to you and your friends.ReplyDelete
Like you, this is a good reminder for me to really appreciate what I have, who I have and to not waste a second of life. Thank you.
You and your friend are in my thoughts. You are a good friend, and supporter.ReplyDelete
I'm sorry to hear about your friend. My thoughts go to him.ReplyDelete
My mom's cousin/dad's best friend passed away 5 years ago of a brain tumor, leaving his wife behind with a toddler. He found out he had a tumor in his 40s as well. It's a terrible thing to go through.
I've questioned things and thought about the same things a great deal recently, too. In 2009 I had five family members die so it was a rough year. I understand where you're coming from.
I'm so sorry to read this news, Ralph. I hope you are still finding joy with Geoff each day.ReplyDelete
Hug the ones you love. Everyday.
Like others, I'm terribly sorry to hear about Geoff. All my thoughts and good wishes.ReplyDelete
You inspire me to do as you say. Despite doing many wonderful things, I think I waste a lot of time not enjoying life. It's been much in my mind lately, and thank you again for reaffirming it.
I'm so sorry for your friend! Let's hope for the best.ReplyDelete