Today I learned of a local man, Jonathan Curry, who lost his battle with cancer. He was healthy. He was strong. He was my age. I didn’t know him. I only learned of his existence on this Earth an hour ago and yet here I was crying at my desk. His passing pulled on my heartstrings with a force that left me emotionally leveled. Today’s modern day social media let me peruse a Facebook page filled with images of Jon and read touching sentiments left by family and friends in remembrance. A wife and young daughter were left in his stead to carry the torch for a man that, for all intents and purposes, was the consummate father, husband and friend.
The sadness I still feel for their loss weighs on me even as I type this. Paired with that, and I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t harbor these feelings, is the realization that that could very well be me. Philosophical questions aside – who put us here, what does it all mean, is there an afterlife – the single self-centered thought that permeated all else to push its way to the front was ‘am I next, did Jon know it was his time before the diagnosis’?
None of us know really. We race through life spending time on things we deem important, people we hold dear and going places to see things we need to see and do. With no direct insight to the specific details regarding Jon’s case, I can only assume that one day doctors told him he lived on borrowed time, but a treatment would be put in place to combat the fire burning unseen under his skin. Somewhere in that conversation there was an estimated expiration date, a time when a last breath would escape his lungs. It doesn’t seem fair. A human being, a wonderful man who lived a life giving to others, and now a team of oncologists were dropping bets on a spinning roulette wheel that was his life based on some sliding scale of those who’d come before him with similar symptoms?
Our own mortality sits in the back of my mind. It is like the guest you invited to the party because it felt rude not to. It sits off in the corner by itself. No one ventures over to talk to it. Acknowledging its presence is allowing it to bring down the life of the party. But it’s there. Then something like this happens and I make my way over to where it is sitting, buy it a drink and look it in the eye despite an overwhelming trepidation to do so.
Jon didn’t want his story to end today. Not at such a young age. Not with a wife and daughter he loved at home who would still need him tomorrow. He didn’t celebrate his 40th birthday thinking he had so much to do with so little time. Somewhere in his twentieth year of age he didn’t look around him and say “well, half way there”…
Who’s writing our story? Do we have a say when and how it ends? Many arguments could be made either way on many different levels, but in cases like Jon’s, the ending unfairly came without warning. How it ends is every bit as much a variable and the when. So where does that leave us? I’ve always believed in my heart that I could not control how my story began. I have very little say on how it is going to end. But I do have every ounce of input to what transpires on the pages within the book of my life hard-covered in fate and destiny.
Hug the people you love more than words. Tell them you love them until your heart’s content. Show them kindness and compassion. Never be too busy to listen to their troubles or lend a helping hand. Live as though tomorrow may come, but if it doesn’t, today was everything you hoped it would be. Don’t put your affairs in order. Order your affairs so that those who you hold dearest are at the top of the queue giving them all you have and more.
Love with patience. Live without regret.
This was Jonathan Curry. He was forty-one.