I found out my friend died this morning. Bowel cancer. She'd been battling it for the past four years. We've known for months she was nearing the end, but you always hope for a miracle. None came.
My partner and I met her and her husband last year, here in Panama, where they bought an apartment to move to from Scotland once they were ready to retire. We became fast friends. We'd only hung out four or five times, and she was in some degree of pain through them all, but we lau<span class="text_exposed_show">ghed and shared and had fun, still. Her laugh was like some beautiful, goofy bird song.</span>
She died in the hospital, in Scotland, with her sweet husband beside her. He sent an email to all of us in Panama to let us know. It ended with these words:
"I cannot express how much I am going to miss her. I am totally devastated. I loved her so much. She was the kindest, most caring and most loving person you could ever meet.
She was my world."
She was his world. And he was hers.
You could feel it when you were with them.
At least she died with her world beside her.
When I learned about my friend today, I thought of my partner, of how completely devastated I would be if he died. How lost I would feel. Then I thought of my parents, of how much their death shut me down to the possibility of a deep and committed relationship with someone. For years, I ran, the fear of abandonment so strong that I chose to abandon instead.
It's so easy to let pain shut us down. We get hurt so badly and we do whatever it takes to keep from getting hurt again. But we can't shut out the possibility of great pain without also shutting out the possibility of great happiness. They walk hand in hand, as most contradictions do.
I ache for my friend who died, and even more for her husband, the world she left behind. The one who was with her when she took her last breath. The one who has to endure his life's greatest pain, because he was open and brave enough to love with abandon, and to say yes to the possibility of deep happiness.
But how lucky were they both to have one another. The pain of death can't silence years of love. I don't need to ask my friend to know that he would do it all over again. Even with the sadness. It's there because his love was so big.
The thing about life is that we have to work a lot harder for happiness than we do pain. Pain is a given. Happiness is a choice. My friends chose happiness. They chose love. They chose each other.
I feel so sad about her death, and so inspired by their love.
May she rest in peace, and may he find the strength to live in our world without his world.
Much love to you all.