Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tooth and Nail

Life is a funny old thing, isn't it?  By funny, I don't necessarily mean humorous, although it is that a lot of the time.  In this instance, I mean peculiar.  Strange.  Strange things are happening all around me at the moment, a lot of them bad.  Very bad.  As bad as they can possibly get.  However, none of the bad things are happening TO me, just AROUND me.  Am I impervious?  Immune?  Does my (generally) sunny disposition somehow protect me?  Or am I just being lulled into a false sense of security?  

Let me offer some examples.

A few weeks ago, I received a message from a very good friend of mine who lives in Sydney.  Incidentally, I used to live with her sister, another very good friend.  The message was that they were on their way home (overseas), as their younger sister (who I knew, but not terribly well and who was the same age as me) had died quite suddenly.  Tonight I finally got to speak to my friend... it turns out that her sister had had an operation (elective) a few months ago, the recovery from which had exacerbated an old injury.  The pain incurred wore her down to the point where she was so severely depressed that she took her own life, despite having fallen deeply in love with a wonderful man. The effect on her family, obviously, is one of total confusion and devastation.

On Saturday night I had a phone call from one of my closest friends in Melbourne to say his mother (aged only 58) had died in her sleep that morning.  She'd only been for a check up at the doctor's a few weeks earlier and been given a clean bill of health, but suffered a massive hemorrhage in her sleep.  I'd never met her, but I'm sure she was amazing woman if her son was anything to go by.  Needless to say, he's in bits - there were no warning signs whatsoever.

I left a message for a mutual friend of ours to let him know what had happened and received a text message from him to say he was in a psychiatric ward, being treated for severe depression and anxiety and would be there for a while longer.  Yet another shock.  He appeared to me to have his life "together" - good job, nice house, lovely wife, new baby... all those boxes were ticked and yet it overwhelms him.

This morning I had a Skype date with one of my friends who has just moved halfway around the world... something she and her partner had been planning and working towards for a couple of years.  She's waiting to hear on two amazing job offers, either of which would be fantastic for her CV and in the meantime is busy with lots of freelance work.  However just two months into her life-changing move and her mother back here in Australia has just been diagnosed with cancer and is about to undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy.  The cancer is incurable, but they hope the combination of chemo and radio will "buy her time".

Another very close friend of mine has recently been diagnosed as manic depressive.  For several years now she has incredible highs where she's on fire and unstoppable, but is also, more increasingly, experiencing massive lows, which render her incapable of anything but staying in bed, hiding from the world and trying to sleep her thoughts away.  I worry for her, I worry for her husband and I worry for her child.  She's having treatment and I hope she will learn to manage it, but I still worry.

This year, in particular, I have been exposed to more illness and death amongst my friends than I can ever remember.  It seems to hover around me like a cloud... most of the time it's ignorable, but every now and again it crosses over the sun and creates a dark shadow.  I guess the upside for me is that none of these occurrences are happening directly to me, so I feel bad, but it always moves on reasonably swiftly.  For some of my friends, though, it's just hanging there, black and ferocious and it's making me question just what it is about me that's different?  Is it something in my genetic makeup?  Is there some unseen force protecting me?  Or are these just warning signs that life is about to throw a huge curve ball my way?  

Whatever it is, it's making me uneasy and forcing me to look at my life. How I live it and how I want to live it. What I want my legacy to be.  And that can only be a good thing.  I know they're cliches, but they are true.  Life IS short.  Live it.

There's an old Don Henley song which has been popping up on shuffle on my iPod these last couple of weeks which I've found quite appropriate to recent events... there's no official video for it on You Tube and the one I've found is pretty literal and bordering on cheesy, but I'm going to share it with you anyway.  In case you're wondering, it's where today's title comes from.

Anyway.  Wow. I just read this post back and realised it's pretty full-on.  Apologies if I made you sad, but I've found it quite cathartic.  Do me a favour if you are reading this and made it to the end... pick up that phone, send that text message, type that email.  Tell people you love them and that they're important.  It'll only take a minute.  And for pity's sake, smile.  For no reason other than that there's so much sadness in the world -  and everybody feels better when they see someone smiling.


Harry got up
Dressed all in black
Went down to the station
And he never came back
They found his clothing
Scattered somewhere down the track
And he won't be down on Wall Street
in the morning

He had a home
The love of a girl
But men get lost sometimes
As years unfurl
One day he crossed some line
And he was too much in this world
But I guess it doesn't matter anymore

In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute
Things can get pretty strange
In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute

Lying here in the darkness
I hear the sirens wail
Somebody going to emergency
Somebody's going to jail
If you find somebody to love in this world
You better hang on tooth and nail
The wolf is always at the door

In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute
Things can get a little strange
In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute

And in these days
When darkness falls early
And people rush home
To the ones they love
You better take a fool's advice
And take care of your own
One day they're here;
Next day they're gone

I pulled my coat around my shoulders
And took a walk down through the park
The leaves were falling around me
The groaning city in the gathering dark
On some solitary rock
A desperate lover left his mark,
"Baby, I've changed. Please come back."

What the head makes cloudy
The heart makes very clear
The days were so much brighter
In the time when she was here
But I know there's somebody somewhere
Make these dark clouds disappear
Until that day, I have to believe
I believe, I believe

In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute
You can get out of the rain
In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute


Chai said...


Min plats i solen said...

I don't believe that any of us are protected from sadness and hardship. I guess it's the prize of love and life.

I'm so sorry to hear about the tough times your friends are going through. It's been way to much of death and sickness around you this past year my friend. I do hope things will take a turn for the better now.

There's a song by the swedish artist Laleh I think you will like. Check out her´"Some die young" on youtube (Laleh-some die young). It's beautiful and goes straight to the heart.

Take care sweetie!