29. A Question of Endurance

Spoke with my oldest friend, M, today on the phone. It was good, but as usual it was also bad.

His mother is very ill and has been for many years. He sounded exhausted.

Like this was, literally, a dead end.

I understand the feeling very well. Nothing to do but wait for the inevitable. And endure.

“She will never get well,” he said.

Not with a certain distance and strength in his voice as had been the case in earlier times. But with exhaustion. A tinge of desolation.

I’m thinking that there will never be a time in the rest of our lives when this is not so: When someone is “never going to get well”.

It’s just a question of degrees.

Today it’s my friend’s mother, whom I do know personally – but who is not close to me personally.

Another day it might be my mother.

Or someone else’s.

There are always ‘someone else’s’, of course. But we can only be honest and say that it hits the most home, the closer to home that someone else is.

And there are enough ‘someone else’ close to home, in various degrees, to make an impact felt.

Like … this feeling that you can never be happy, really, when something so terrible as death and suffering continually visits; undulates through your life, in waves both distant and closer …

But you have to. Because this is a fact of life.

So there may be darker periods, like that night when we said goodbye to my father-in-law.

Then there is the waiting period before those dark pits – the period which is just gray and moderately painful, like an old stab wound not quite closed.

Then there is another gray period after that, of mourning. Until the mist eventually lifts.

And then rolls right in again, along with more night.

Yes, you can see life clearly as such periods now. I can see it.

I like to call them shadows, or waves of shadow. Weaving into our lives, with varying force and chill.

And it never stops.

Sure, there may be periods where no one too close is hurt or ill, but as you get older, those periods become ever briefer.

So how do you ultimately endure. By adopting a religion?

I don’t think that is enough.

I think the ultimate key is realizing you have to endure. And find the good and the beautiful in life and truly appreciate it – in spite.

Otherwise all else becomes meaningless.

Including the dark pits.