Thursday, July 5, 2012

Saying Goodbye to a Friend

Today's not my favorite day.  In fact, if I could skip today, it would be all well and good.

My friend passed last week after a 16-year battle with cancer.  He fought with every fibre of his being.  Procedures, surgeries, or medications couldn't overcome this dreaded disease, but watching the battle between this man and this illness brought to light a valuable recipe - life is one part faith, one part attitude.

Al, in spite of all the internal conflict going on inside his body, chose to live each day with a smile on his face, spoke gently, and never forgot how to laugh.  In fact, a few years ago he suffered a back injury and during my visit he began to laugh.  I asked him what he found so amusing and he replied, "I'm in pain and I don't know why, but I just laugh at it."  Maybe Norman Cousins was right when he proposed laughter as a way to a healthier lifestyle.

As I write this I realize that in remembering his life, I've been gifted by how he enriched my life.  Al loved iconography and taught me to appreciate those beautiful symbols.  He educated me on matters of faith and social justice.  Our friendship opened me up to the world in a broader context.  He cross-stitched. What he produced could be displayed in any museum.  There have been many more gifts that are now part of my journey.  Permanent reminders of his life on earth that are now embedded in my heart.

So, as much as I dread going to his wake this afternoon, I think that the visit has a different, yet still emotional meaning for me.  I'll go to say prayers over his coffin and to discuss with gratitude the many gifts his life meant to others.  I know there will be tears.  Tears of sadness and tears of celebration for his life on earth and that in the hereafter.

His pain is no longer.  His life well lived.

Thank you, Al.



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