A moment from yesterday, you can see the masts of the fishing fleet outlined against the setting sun.
You're catching me as I wax philosophical lately. I've lost friends over the years. Far too many to count now. "Lost" seems that I was careless, somehow. As if I temporarily misplaced them. How come we use that metaphor? "Oh, you lost your dad, I'm so sorry." As if he could be found, you know? Lost to what exactly? Life, the world, his loved ones, the cancer that got him?
All this to say that a friend of mine died 10 years ago. A nasty form of cancer. She smoked. And the cancer ran everywhere in the end. She was a strikingly good-looking woman and dressed to the nines. Hair always perfect. Nails polished, cashmere twin-sets (now there's an old fashioned word but she was built for twin-sets) and pencil thin skirts and expensive tall shoes. A high school principal who had to run outside and up the road and behind a coffee shop to attend to her habit. Out of sight of her students and shedding her dignity in the process.
Her widower visited me out here in Newfoundland about 5 years ago. He was still in deep grief over her loss. We talked into the long nights about his beloved. She meant everything to him. He smoked. Four years ago he lost a leg, two years ago, the other one. Send them to the tobacco companies, he said at the time. Now he has receded into dementia.
Their younger daughter died last week, leaving three children. Smoking. Cancer. And when family pressure forced her to medical attention it was far too advanced. She suffered greatly in the last 6 months of her life. She was so like her mother in every way it would break your heart.
I look at her pictures today on Facebook, her last Christmas with her family, her chemo-head covered in a santa hat and her dad in the wheelchair beside her and her kids, the youngest only 12 and sadness overwhelms me. For all of us. For this precious, fragile world we inhabit so carelessly. Afraid to breathe the clean air and eat the good food, inhaling, ingesting, imbibing all the poison and toxins that will surely kill us in the end and far too soon.
And I'm glad her mother didn't live to bear this. And they have yet to tell her father.