Monday, June 7, 2010

Seasons of Love

525,600 minutes.
525,600 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes.
How do you measure, measure a year?

Ah! On to the business of loving, living and ....well. Death. It seems to be the only constant lesson in my life lately. I'm usually better at this. This life and death thing. You see, I don't feel cheated when someone dies young. I've seen death too many times on too many different faces to NOT know better than that. I know plenty of 80+ year olds who have yet to do a thing with the talents, love and laughter God gave them. I know 28 year olds who have forged their own path, loved fully and followed every dream (even if they never made it a reality). I know, it isn't how long you live, it 's what you do with the years you've got.

In daylights? in sunsets?
In midnights? In cups of coffee?
In inches? In miles? In laughter? In strife?
In 525, 600 minutes how do you measure
your last year of life?

When I was struggling with cancer it wasn't the idea of death that scared the shit out of me. It was the fear that I may never fully live. I'd had my bumps and bruises growing up. Lost more than I gained. From getting arrested (several times), to dead brothers and best friends, to joy rides in cars (I didin't pay for) to living in another country for three months just roaming & learning I still hadn't done anything that impressed ME yet. I hadn't fully loved or been loved in return. I hadn't had children or adopted. I hadn't done that peace corps work I always said I would do. I hadn't really been laid thorough & right (hell not even courted fully & righteously. LOL). I hadn't lost my mind completely. I hadn't ever felt free and open. I hadn't ever felt home. I hadn't impressed ME. It was the thing I regretted most. That feeling of not having lived fully. Even death was common business for average living. It was humbling to say the least. When I survived, I got to the business of living. Nope. Still haven't accomplished everything I wanted to but at 30...haven't done half bad for myself.

In diapers? Report cards?
In speeding tickets? In contracts?
In funerals? In births?
In 525, 600 minutes how do you figure
our last year on earth?

So perhaps you can understand my reaction to my friend's, the scientist, declaration that his best friend (since elementary school) had cancer. Cancer. It took a while for it to sink in from this side of the fence. I'm not usually the one in the "waiting room". Cancer. I waited. I watched. Wanting to be there for him but not really knowing how since both being on this side of the diagnosis and being with him in this capacity were new. I followed his lead. I kept my thoughts inside, just as he is prone to do, even though I knew, that could only last (for me) but for so long.

Time passed. This weekend he let me know the cancer that was in his bones had metastasized to his lymph nodes. It had become terminal. I knew this from the moment he said lymph nodes but I let him tell me. It seemed like he needed to say the words. He wasn't ready to tell me but from his behavior from the past week I could tell something was wrong and had begun to nag him to open up. I know, I gotta stop nagging. It's rude. I know. But it's also rude to be less than who you are and who I am, is a woman who needs communication. So sometimes we will bump heads on that. LOL. This time, I chose to follow my instincts, my truth. I looked at him and asked him "So what are we going to do?"

525,600 minutes. 525,600 journey's to plan
525, 600 minutes, HOW can you measure
the life of a woman or a man?

He said, in a very professional voice, "Assuming there is something we can do. Look, once it gets to your lymph nodes there's a 1 in a billion chance that you will survive. I will be at his procedures , before and after, and of course be as much a support as I can." And though it wasn't the time, I couldn't help but smile. I loved his response. While completely missing what I was asking, it showed the beauty of him. Of our friendship. The vast difference in who we are. It's in those moments, when we see things completely different, that I see balance and he sees hinderance. I was in no way asking about the bff's physical condition or his diagnosis. He is dying. As we all are. That is not to sound callous. It is truth. From the moment we are born we are working on dying. It's the only absolute left. So, my heart says, what are we going to do? Not about his death. About the gift of his living... My heart says, how are we going to celebrate his life with him, while he is still with us? Plan the moments of no behavior. Live out loud until there isn't any noise left to make.

In the truths that she learned? Or in the times that he cried?
In the bridges she burned? Or the way that he died?
How about love?

With my brother I didn't have a chance to laugh until I pee'd (not that I want to currently) or simply live out loud without consequence or behavior. And even if I had...hell, why not give it another go? But my best friend...the moments that keep me smiling is my last summer with her. Somehow, fate figured out that we needed time to lose ourselves in each moment.
Money and time weren't a thought.

Let's celebrate the year in a
life of love and friends

I remember stealing her mom's car and calling into our summer jobs to say "we'll be late". That was AFTER we were already AWOL for two days because we decided to drive to Philly (instead of the Giant as her mom asked) to party with my sister and her college friends. We told her very wealthy uncle we were on a college tour so he just kept feeding money into her bank account. More excited than a 16 year old with a playboy model that his niece was thinking about...well...anything...but COLLEGE? Oh, he funded all that debauchery in hopes she was "getting it together". And we did see colleges! I (the good one) made sure of it! We waved at the academic buildings as we stumbled into bars, frat parties, strip clubs. That was our last summer and was the least of our shennanigans that year. The very next summer, her boyfriend thought her better dead.

Share with them your love
You've got to, you've got to live inside love
Measure your life in love

So, as I laid there, stroking his back and listening to the medical explanation. I was plotting...maybe they should just go to Africa for a month and live as brothers of the bush men. Eh! Then no one is getting any for a month and I'd have to delouse & spray him with anti bacterials upon return. Not sure the bff's system can take that. But I want them to spend time just celebrating his life. Wear your own self out I say! The scientist was kissing me at this point. Asking me what I was thinking. I told him too many things to name. Which was true. I was thinking of him, his bff, my losses, my gains, how to get them to the playboy mansion for a weekend of don't ask/don't tell living, about why in the hell would anyone want to laugh until they pee. I was thinking about summers in Philly pumping "Money Aint a Thing" and my bff's voice in my ear. I was thinking of our friendship not being a burden to him while he has so much on his plate. Thinking...what are we going to do? About living, loving and laughing? About your broken heart and disappointment? About the time he still has? What's the next step in Justin's living. Plotting...what are we going to do? My energy already carrying him away to the next season and praying that I can help him to make it more than he expected. So that, when the time comes, they have celebrated their life in a way that leaves them too exhausted to say goodbye or do anything other than remember the love of a brother and good friend.
Seasons of Love! Seasons of Love!
I'll measure your life in love.
Seasons of Love lyrics from the musical Rent

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