Three months ago my friend Marcia died. We first met in 1972 working at the Post Office Savings Bank, both in our first 'proper' jobs. She, straight from school, me, taking a break from university to earn some money, so she was two years younger than me. She was a lively, vivacious young woman, and we had a lot of fun together, but then I went back to university and then off overseas for the great OE (overseas experience), while she married and had a baby. By the time we got back from overseas, she had been widowed, had a new man in her life, and we drifted apart due to the very different lives we were leading.
Then in July 2009 I went along to a Hamilton Organic Gardeners' meeting and there she was - talking about urban beekeeping! Shortly afterwards I signed up for the Fraser High School night class that Marcia was teaching, and each evening after class we talked and caught up on all those years, and found that we had so much more in common now. Our friendship started again, stronger and more interesting than before. For three years I enjoyed her company online, by phone and in person, mostly coffee and a walk at the Hamilton Gardens. Then she was gone again. I'm so glad I talked to her just a week before she died. I'm so glad I had those three years, getting to know her as an enthusiastic, intelligent, passionate, interesting, mature woman. She help me see life more positively than I am apt to do. She showed me how to enjoy life for the good in it. She showed me how to acknowledge the bad things that happen, but also how you can then step out of the shadow and focus on the good stuff.
I miss Marcia so much. I think of her most days. I have also been brought face to face with my own mortality. After so many years of depression, I have been basically free of it for a couple of years, and I want to live longer, to live and enjoy life. Marcia was enjoying her life: she died at a time of her life when she was following dreams, making plans and living hopefully. I want to live like that. I hope I get the chance to live like that for a lot longer. But I also want to die like that - in the midst of a life lived in joy, hope and dreams.
A few days ago, a man a couple of years older than me died after his car left the road - the scariest road I have ever driven. I didn't know him well. I knew his widow via the online homeschool community, and enjoyed her online friendship, but lost touch after the email lists we were on broke down. I visited them in 1999 along with Steven, Simon and Jeffrey, staying in one of their various tourist accommodations. They were lovely people. They have 10 children and some grandchildren. They loved each other in a way that shone brightly and obviously. Now he is dead.
So, after three months of pondering about my life and what will happen between now and when I die, Tim's death has brought me to pondering the awful possibility of Mac dying before me, and what that would be like.
I realise that life is all I have right now. The present is all we have: I have to live joyfully, and I have to do anything I can to make Mac's life more joyful too. I must not take life for granted. Nor can I take Mac's life for granted.
Partners, parents, children, friends - don't take any of them for granted. If you love them, show it. Talk to them. Spend time with them. Make sure they are part of your life. Don't put them off until you aren't so busy with other things.
Love is a verb: do it. Live is a verb: do it.