Last year about this time I had the honor of meeting someone who would become a very beloved friend to me. This incredible man has taught me many things, about cancer, about life and not least importantly, about growing tomatoes in Central Oregon, (it’s not easy). My dear friend has had a rough year, well a rough nine years if we’re counting, but the last one has been especially tough. Through all of his own struggles, he has met with me for coffee and we’ve discussed pretty much everything. Tonight I couldn’t get these words out of my head and knew that I needed to my dear friend to hear them. I thought there might be something there that is of use to you all and so I am sharing; my letter to Gary:
Over the last year I’ve spent many a moment pondering life and it’s meaning. Why were we put here and why must some of us suffer so? Having you as a dear friend has brought that last question to the forefront more often these days. Why did cancer strike such an incredible man, a kind and generous man who would give anything to help someone else. Why him? I know you and I already know you’re thinking, “Why not me?” And you’re right; there is no rhyme or reason to all of this, it just is.
This gets me thinking on the teachings of the Buddha; that life is suffering. When I think back on time upon time it seems to be the one theme that threads itself through the fabric of time, suffering. Yet there is another color interwoven with all that suffering, and that is love. Again, for ages when things have seemed at their worst and humanity has fallen to it’s lowest, there is always love. This is what gives me hope and this is what helps me forgive the Universe when I am angry for what it has done to you my friend.
I think about your girls and the amazing little sanctuary you have built for yourselves. I think about the inside jokes that I have been blessed to hear tale of. I think of the strength the women in your life possess to sit in the center of the storm with you; not for a month, or a year, but for many, many years. They sit and hold vigil at your side because they love you. You are loved. That warms my heart and helps me to have faith in the Universe once more. My little family has only felt a sliver of the struggles you and yours have been through, but through our long talks I have learned more than you could ever know. You have taught me to savor the juicy bits, and to let the suffering be. It is after all; no one can change that, as hard as one might try.