Thursday, January 14, 2010

I'm still here

I lost yet another colleague and friend this week. We have known each other since graduate school. He was a funny fellow with an infectious laugh. We partied together back then. It was a time of working hard and partying hard. We spent lots of time together on research vessels, exploring wondrous things from the depths of the ocean.

Two years ago he came to my lab to work on some collections that I had. He was an expert in his field. It was good to reconnect with him. We no longer were into partying but instead would talk about where we had been and what was important to us now. He had recently married after many years of dalliances with beautiful women. He married a plain woman with a good heart who loved him to the core. He said that he felt settled and happy, reconnected with his children. Not long after that, he was diagnosed with lung cancer (note: He never smoked but developed a severe respiratory infection after entering a bat infested tree in the Amazon. The doctors were unsure whether this was a contributing cause or not). He is another bright light gone much too soon.

I remember my mother telling me in her 90's that as one grows older, it can be hard because there will be few old friends left. She said that she was glad though to still be around and hoped to be the last one standing. I thought at the time that would be a lonely thing--to be the last one in your group of friends still alive. But I'm beginning to appreciate what she meant.

I am not an old man by any means. I am younger than those who predeceased me. So I wonder why it is that I am still here. I was thinking this last night as I was rowing under a crystal clear sky on water that was slick and dark. Why am I still breathing, experiencing the wonders of this world, loving, touching, seeing? It is inexplicable in a way.

I know that genes have something to do with it. Maybe luck as well. Yet, I somehow think that perhaps there is some other reason. I am hoping that God isn't through with me yet. And that there is still much work to be done with myself and others. Maybe it's best to not ask the Why question at all but to take a bit from Tennyson: "Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die".


  1. So sorry about your friend, Syd. I remember Audrey Hepburn called the dying of her older friends, The Gathering In. I thought that was pretty fitting.

    Love, SB.

  2. MYSTERY....hey? beautifully said. Sorry for your loss. Glad you are still here:) Peace, jeanne

  3. yes. sad. we all have a destiny, but at the same time, everything is in flux. so yes the future is set and in some ways no it isn't. like everything, a paradox..

    i like the interpretation of destiny in the film called The Air I Breathe in the charchter player by Brendan Fraser. Good movie.

    I dont really know why Im alive either. I could have died many times. but didn't. I just try to do the right thing, knowing that nomatter how hard i try, i will fail some of the most important things in life. but there you go. You dont know what you dont know, unfortunately. only in hindsight, which is a shame..

  4. I my mother and fathers family the are all over 80 now. My motehr was one of ten, there are only two left. My father is already gone and there are two left. At the last funeral some of us of our generation we talking quietly about the realization that probably soon we will be the elder generation. It is actually a sobering thought.

  5. My own view is that what we think is reality is merely the dream we are dreaming only we forget that we are the dreamer too. I, like you, hope that my journey isn't yet half over but when it is time, I hope I am as missed as your dear friend is. What a tribute to him and to you.

    Namaste and hugs

  6. Poignant post Syd, I too have lost a dear friend this year and although older than I, I ponder why I am still here and yet am grateful every day I wake up...I hope that my higher power has more in store for me!

    Thank you for this most amazing post...xo gabi

  7. SOrry to hear of your friends passing syd. May he be at peace in heaven as he found on earth latter in life.

    The quote.. one of my favorites. I think it applies to all people in some mysterious way.

    Warm hugs.

  8. I'm sorry you have lost your friend.

  9. I am sorry to hear of yet another loss in your life. Yep, I don't think God is near done with you yet! You touch so many lives.

  10. I am sorry for your loss.

    I wonder sometimes, as I watch others leave, what my number is? Am I one or 10 behind this one we're burying?

    The one thing I know is that:
    1) I'm ready
    2) I hope it's not painful for me or others in any way
    3) I have things to keep me busy until that time

    One thing.

    Blessings and aloha...

  11. I rather like the idea of "my work is not finished yet". Even though I have little idea what 'work' I am doing.

    I am sorry for your loss Syd.

  12. I have seen untimely death and miraculous recovery at the hospital (sometimes in the same day). I quit asking why a long time ago.

  13. I'm so sorry for your loss dear friend. I've often asked that same question of myself...why am I still here. Perhaps you and I are both unfinished canvases and Creator hasn't finished the portrait of our lives. (Hugs)Indigo

  14. Syd, I am truly sorry for yet another friend's passing. My mother always said, even up to two days before she passed, that she had too much work left to do, she wasn't done. She was 84 when she did go, she finally let go but she did an enormous amount of good while here, as you do:)

  15. This is such a touching post. The older I get and the more I know, the less I realize I actually understand.


  16. I am sorry for your loss. He was lucky to have the friendship of a man with such deep feellings and intelect.

  17. Sorry for your loss Syd - sending you peace and love.

  18. I'm sorry you lost your friend Syd.
    And an interesting note to his lung cancer too.

    I've been losing loved ones/friends since I was 16.
    Death should teach all of us there is not age and or timeline.Hence we appreciate each moment when we look into the eyes of another we care about.


  19. Syd, I'm sorry also for the loss of your friend and colleague.

    I used to not like the question "Why?" unless it was me asking it. I still do not like it, no matter who is asking.

    Your friend sounds like he lived a quite productive life, even though a cancer got him young.

  20. Syd: You are alive maybe for all this stimulating writing you do and the people you encourage.

    Why think about death when life is what you have.

    Your friend completed his course. Good for him.

    You keep going on. Death will come when it comes and when it comes, you will not regret it.

    Joy always,

  21. Im so sorry for your loss, Syd.

    Hang in there...and I hope you enjoy the day on Sunday...I, for one, and so grateful YOU were born!


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