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".