Last week I heard about an old friend, Kent, dying of brain cancer. I was flooded with so many feelings that I felt totally overwhelmed. Even though I haven’t had contact with him in over 10 years, somehow it just felt so raw.
Kent and another friend Clayton were the only two people that I ‘talked to’ (in the form of letters) about my diagnosis when I was still in hospital – though even with them I tried to trivialize it all. Kent had flown up from Wellington to be my partner at my 7th form ball and through letter-writing we maintained contact for several years after.
To hear on facebook about and then see, through Kent’s profile photos on Facebook, photos of him with a big shaved patch of shortened hair, then no hair, and then with a woolen skull cap on and holding his newborn baby, led me to tears. As I looked at the photo there was something else I realized and that was that the backdrop was brain scans. Hearing and seeing all of this just swamped me with emotion and left me sobbing and I found myself crying out to God “WHY DIDN’T YOU TAKE ME?”
What cuts me up the most when other people, who have young families, lose their battle with cancer, is that they are families with children who need that parent to look up to, need that partner to support and love them. I on the other hand feel that no one needs me for anything, nobody needs me as their role model. I just personally feel so bad when such a person dies.
After talking all of this through with one of my oldest friends she questioned why I felt as though I was less worthy of life. She said that though I am single and don’t have children, that my life was still worth something to other people. This comment really got me thinking about what it means to have lived a full life.
Is a full life having climbed the corporate ladder to the top? Is it having got married and had children? Is it having travelled the world and experienced all that it has to offer? Or is it perhaps having the letters ‘PhD’ after your name? If that is what a full life is, then I haven’t lived.
Because of spending most of the past decade with brain-injury from the 8 lots of neurosurgery I’ve had in that time, and being on high doses of opiates to cope with the pain, there have been many years that I have merely existed. Does that mean, that my life hasn’t had any worth?
In the early years after I moved back home in 2000 I decided to start writing people ‘encouragement cards’. I actually can’t remember what initially inspired me to do so but it has been something that I continue to do, in spite of major hand pain issues. I decided a long time ago that even if I couldn’t achieve anything in wordly terms, and even though I didn’t own anything much, there were still things of significance that I could do. I could still love. I could still encourage others. I could still build others up. I could still reach out to, and pray for people who were struggling with life. I could still be there for people.
For me, loving others is what I feel is part of my purpose in life. Loving and encouraging people; helping them to see their inner beauty in themselves and loving themselves; Loving my niece and nephews and encouraging them to see the beauty that life has to offer and helping them to see that God created them as they are and loves what he created. Loving others and seeing them flourish just fills me with such incredible joy. What greater purpose in life could there be?
Life is short – love (others) hard (out).