May’s knees are bone-on-bone. Each step is agony. Carl just learned his unabated fatigue is rooted in metastasized cancer. Levon‘s eyesight is going, throwing off his balance. Denny just learned she has a lethal heart condition. My colitis rages. Medications, treatments, tests.
We are cheerful people, granted some nascent grace with which to face each new day, even when the day greets us with unavoidable history. My friends and I are living, breathing, creating memories.
But the memories we make are less for ourselves than for others now. We embrace our kids and their friends in easy hours of visiting, harder times sightseeing, traveling, and ratting around.
We repeat our personal stories, offer our wisdom, and listen to each other and our young. We connect the ephemeral dots of existence with and for each other. We laugh. We nod in empathy.
Sometimes sober moments grow amongst us. We enter cathedrals of thought en masse, seeking revelation, ministering to each other, rendering our confessions of past guilt and failings. Spoken, offered to the light of day, our shames are silly, sorry relics of our child minds. We are forgiven.
We keep each other up to date with our test results and prognoses, but no one asks, “How long do you have?” There’s no accurate answer to the question. Doctors don’t know. We don’t know.
Death doesn’t loom. Life looms. Our pain, fatigue, physiologic breakdowns may limit our activities, discourage our efforts, but it doesn’t scare us. Our hours are too precious to spend them hosting fear.
Our hours include the entirety of the human condition, a forming rainbow, colored by each others’ company and insights. The storms are over. We faced the hard stuff: falling in love, finding a purpose, raising children, losing love, our hopes and dreams tested. Some of us fought in wars, some of us fought internal battles, all of us are scarred, still healing.
But we are alive. And we gaze on sunsets every bit as beautiful as the sun’s rise. Twilight has its own balance of dark and light. We chose to laugh and smile and embrace it all.