Wednesday, March 21, 2012

When Your Pain is Self-Inflicted

Christopher Meeks

As we grow older, we lose more friends. It’s just the way it is. Call it “life”; “the law of averages”. Maybe you just think of it as “shit happens”.


Author Christopher Meeks wrote on HuffPost50 about the death of his friend, Andy LaMarca. He begins by recounting Shakespeare’s “seven ages of man” from As You Like It.


“There’s a stage that Shakespeare didn’t define, but it’s the decade where everyone you love starts dying.”

It’s humbling and infuriating and too damn sad for words sometimes. “There is no answer to ‘is it fair?’” he says. “It just is.”

As I’ve written here before, life has a way of detouring us, despite our best intentions. We get complacent (a nice euphemism for ‘lazy’). We assume we’ll see our friend ‘someday’, ‘somewhere’. We might even make plans to get together ‘soon’. The problem is, sometimes soon isn’t soon enough.

“When I saw him this week laid out in his casket, eyes shut, glasses on, with short gray hair, I witnessed his sixteen-year-old daughter distraught, crying until she had to be helped away from her father. I wondered how I’d never interacted with his family. We’d seen each other just once in the last fifteen years.

“The fact was, he lived on one side of L.A. in Simi Valley, and I lived maybe 45 miles east in Eagle Rock. It felt more like I was in Bulgaria and he, Easter Island. We kept saying we’d get together for lunch but never did….And now he’s forever out of L.A.”

A mutual friend recounted how she’d lost six friends in a year.

“When someone you know dies, you just want to see the people you’ve been meaning to see right away, hurry, hurry, hurry.”

She and Meeks made plans for lunch for the following week.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I was in L.A. when I read Meeks' article. I've been to Simi Valley and stayed in Eagle Rock, though on separate trips. I was staying in Sunland and declined to meet someone in Long Beach: too far to drive. I figure his 45-miles one-way probably could take two hours, depending on luck and time of day. I talked to people who regularly decline invitations because it's "too far". I completely understand how he felt.)

So, as they say on “Morning Joe”: ‘what, if anything, have we learned today?’

If you’ve never experienced the death of a friend, well, you’re lucky. It will happen eventually, no matter what you do to avoid it.

Take it from those of us who have been there, done that; those of us who are haunted by missed opportunities to spend time with those who are no longer with us.

Grief is hard enough with piling guilt on top of it – guilt that could possibly have been avoided.

Risk the possibility that the friends you have will think you’re nuts for insisting on making definite plans to get together. It probably won’t be the first time they rolled their eyes at you.

And guys, I’m talking to you, too.



To read Christopher Meeks’ article on HuffPost50: Life Stages and the Loss of a Friend

To read more from Christopher Meeks: Christopher Meeks, Author






2 comments:

Angela Felsted said...

Those sounds like a moving article. Thank you for sharing this message. It is all too easy to neglect our friends.

Victoria Noe (@Victoria_Noe) said...

Yes, I encourage you to read Meeks' full article. I just loved his line about the decade of losing everyone you love. Have felt that way for a few years now myself. Thanks for your comment!