Saturday, 8 August 2015

Suddenly, not kids anymore

A friend from cadets passed away last night of cancer after a nine-year battle. She was in her late 40s. She fought the good fight and lost, sadly, as so many do who have been inflicted with this terrible scourge. But she was too young. She never got the chance to see her children grown into adulthood and see what a difference she made in their lives, she never got to have grand-kids, she never got to retire and enjoy life. Like so many before her, she was taken much too soon from all of us.

That really hits hard. 

Your friends, like your family, are supposed to be immortal. You should never outlive them. Or so we think to ourselves. Over the years I've seen many people pass on from this life, one that stands out is an old friend who died in her sleep at 34 years old. Literally just stopped being alive. It took almost a year to figure out why she died. At 34. Then there was Keith Pierre, a big healthy active fun-loving guy, who dropped dead at 29 in front of his wife in the kitchen. His heart gave out. We all have stories like that, we've all been affected by the sudden loss of not just family, but friends. Old or young, it doesn't matter, everyone's mortal. People die in accidents, illness, suicide, homocide, any number of reasons, and we've all had someone sometime in our lives who have moved on. And we mourn forever. 

Geri-Ann Hurt's passing will be no different in how it affects me, compared to the rest, it will hurt, and it will bring home a terrifying truth, we all have to go sometime, this life is temporary. But her death also brings home memories, good times in cadets at 12 years old, when she was a little older and one of the senior cadets who taught and mentored me. Then later as a fellow officer, a one-time commanding officer, and casually over the years, just a friend.

We've kept in touch since the teenage years, there's a core group of around 60 from that era who have become more brothers and sisters than friends. We've attending each other's weddings, our kid's events, had the chance to mentor each other's children as they joing the cadet movements, and now, like many times before, funerals. It's not the way we want to see each other again, as the older we get the less frequent our gatherings, but it has to be. Ironically last night I posted on the group that we need to get together again soon, at least for beer and wings or something. This morning I heard the news, my first thought was "not like this". 

It sucks getting older. We're all middle age now, some have retired, some have faded away. But we all want to keep the memories of our childhood together alive, and that means sharing with each other in whatever way we can. We have an inate desire to maintain our youth and refuse to ever give into the aging process, that philosophy keeps us young. At our last gathering we all acted like the kids we were, being goofy and immature, we were all just a little grayer and our bodies didn't look like they used to, but the youth in us came through when we met again. That's the last time I saw Geri-Ann. She was sick that day, her doctor gave her six months. She walked slowly, she looked gaunt, and a friend had to help her along, but she came out. Maybe to say hello old friends just one more time. She lasted three years from that point. She fought it with all she had, she held onto her youth with every fibre of her being. Like we all do. 

Now we have to move on, back to the reality of middle-age life. We're not kids anymore, as much as we try, we just aren't. That doesn't mean we should never stop trying, the old adige is you're only as young as you feel, that's true, but given that some days I feel 85. Other days, 12. We must maintain the balance to keep our sanity. That balance involves a heavy dose of old friends. Without them, who's going to remind you of all the stupid things you did!

As we mourn for Geri-Ann we must find hope that our own lives will work out for the better. We must move on and live. All the while remembering our friend, and others, who have passed on. We must remember the good times we had, and try whenever possible to relive them. Only then will we be satisfied that at the end of our lives we will have no regrets. Only then will we feel that we truly lived. 

We're not kids anymore. Every person who has touched us and then passed away reminds us of that. But we should never give into the idea of mortality. If we think about our own time, we stop living and thinking about why we should live - our family and our friends. In many cases, as it was with Geri-Ann, those ideals are interchangable.

Sleep well Geri-Ann, we'll miss you, and we'll celebrate you.

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