Which makes it all the more tough to take when life takes a turn, and the love - or the life - is over.
In the past week, I've been served up examples of both. A couple I admire, individuals whom I love, are parting ways. It's sad, and yet beautiful the way people can acknowledge that they've grown apart, and move on to create a new, separate happiness. There's honor in that; I can respect it even as I love them both. And I'm fortunate that during my divorce I had examples of folks who did not take sides; I'm grateful for that example, because now I stand poised to offer that same support and love to my friends.
But the true tragedy of the past week is a love that was ripped apart by death. My friend Jack died last weekend after having a heart attack. He was only 58. His death leaves his wife - my friend Sherry - and their college-aged children, Heidi and Jackson, without a larger-than-life guiding force. I cannot imagine how much their souls must be hurting.
I didn't know Jack very well, but I sure did love the man. Back in the late 80s (or was it the early 90s?), my friend Tony asked me to assistant-direct "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" with him at the Riverfront Playhouse in downtown Aurora. Jack and Sherry were cast as the leads, and I'll tell ya ... Jack scared the piss out of me. He was an intimidating force with a booming voice, full of talent and authority. But what I learned throughout the process is that he was also full of mischief and wonderment, and by the time opening night rolled around, I had completely pulled a 180.
I, like so many others, found him so easy to love.
When faced with loss, even when it's not mine personally, I often find myself taking stock. I accept it as an opportunity to reflect on what's important. Does it matter that people make foolish choices and screw up along life's path? Well, yes, but it's not life or death. Does it matter that I still have several boxes to unpack? No. Does it matter that I have no shorts to take to Hawaii? No, dumbass, you're going to Hawaii, shut up.
What matters, truly, is love. Living in the moment. Doing your best. Letting the people you love know how much you love them, by your actions more than your words. Being kind to people and critters less fortunate than you. If there is one legacy my friend leaves behind, I hope it is that we realize that we can choose where to put our energies. We can focus on the bullshit, or we can focus on love. We can worry about stuff we can't control, or we can concentrate on the relationships that matter to us.
I'm going to do my best. I invite you to join me.