Monday, October 23, 2006

losing people, gaining memories

It seems like I've been talking a lot about the past, about people and times passing. Perhaps that's the way it is when you get to a certain age. There's more to talk about what one has done and seen rather than get breathless about plans for the future! But this year has been more about loss than any year before. Since the beginning of the year, I have lost three people I have been associated with closely, people who have been engaged in my life at different points and have made differently-shaped dents in my personality.

One was a fellow student who later turned into a colleague, an intense young man who became an even more intense adult, whose intensity lingers in his poetry and his sharp visual sketches, some of which surface, unexpectedly, on the Internet when one is browsing late at night looking for traces of a past that seemingly has vanished but has found a nook in some strange corner of this realm called cyberspace.

The next to go was a gentle presence who just barely touched my life before she was gone, victim also to the same cancer that claimed the other friend (and yet another before him). Smiling quietly even when she was making a point firmly, ensuring that her lightness of touch was not mistaken for a frailty of will, she showed me how firmness could be accompanied by a laugh, that affection did not have to be rationed like some commodity in short supply.

And then there was my friend Ja, someone I first bumped into on the stairway to my newly-married academic campus home, someone who showed me how the "other half" lived or did not live, whose thirty years on me disappeared with a shared thought, a shared smile, who showed me that friendship did not have to be packaged in any way, that it was a free-flowing thing that simply took up residence in one's heart, yet remained weightless and formless.

Perhaps it's just the age I'm at...