Thursday, July 7, 2011

End of the Innocence?

The other morning I had gotten up early to see off my husband and son, and decided to go back to bed for just a little bit... just because I could. After a few minutes of slumber, my parents called and my mom gave me the bad news that an old friend of mine, JM, had died. The obituary she'd read was short and generic, so I called his mother in a little bit of denial and she confirmed that he had passed in late May, likely from an accidental overdose of medication.
We'd been friends and neighbors in junior high and high school (I'd had a crush on him when I was about 15 and he was 14), and then he'd befriended me again in college when he transferred to my school. JM was smart and good-looking but socially awkward in early adulthood, and I found out several years later that he had been diagnosed with a serious mental illness and was living out of state with his parents. I hadn't heard from him for about 20 years when he wrote to me out of the blue about a year and a half ago, and we corresponded by handwritten letters every few weeks during that time.

We wrote about our pets (he especially liked cats), and he expounded about how much he enjoyed living in Florida, "paradise." I told him about our farm life, and sent him pictures of our chickens, cats, and alpacas. He sent me a photo of our old house, and we reminisced about "the good ole days". I sent him a postcard the day we headed for Florida this spring with my cell number, and told him to give us a call if he wanted to get together since we would be near his home. He called, and my husband, daughter and I met him for lunch. Still friendly and funny, we were mutually glad to see each other and we had a really good visit.

Hearing the news that just six weeks after I'd seen him JM was gone, especially on the heels of another close friend's inexplicable suicide, filled me with sadness. I started to lay my head back on the pillow, but instead jumped out of bed and literally shouted, "CARPE DIEM" (Seize the Day!). I was overwhelmed with a wave of gratitude for my own life and truly felt that I should not waste a minute feeling sad!

I heard this song later that day, and it has been swirling in my head ever since:

Somehow it seems connected to my feelings about losing my old friend, but it is also now linked in my mind to our expedition yesterday, one of the absolute BEST days I've ever had riding and sharing with my girlfriends.

"I know a place where we can go, still untouched by men... We'll sit and watch the clouds roll by, the tall grass waving in the wind".... That's where we went, or at least it seemed like it at Red Hill in Livingston, KY and the Daniel Boone National Forest. I know that only MB and Marti (and our 3 horses) can truly understand what a special day it was....

The challenge of the rugged trails (indescribably scary in spots, sloppy-muddy in others), the amazing conversations and laughter, the beauty of the surroundings, and the awe and appreciation we held for our sure-footed horses.... all contributed to an especially gratitude-filled, happy day. AND, to top it off, we FINALLY found Moonbow Rock, a natural arch which we had sought in every prior ride at Red Hill and never could find. (We had begun to doubt it's existence). And we didn't get lost like on last year's epic ride there with my daughter.
So, well into my middle years and having survived longer than some who were precious to me, I am attempting to find meaning and connectedness in the people, places, and experiences in my life. I am trying to see beauty and significance in the small and large events. I felt drawn to this plant I spotted by Moonbow Rock... which I realized today symbolizes the love and connectedness I have with Marti, MB, and our horses.
And yes, once again, I do know how very lucky I am.....
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Ginny Huber said...

A beautiful poignant post, Lindy. it is so hard and such a shock to lose those dear to us. I am so sorry that you lost JM and am inspired by how you are striving to appreciate, too, the gifts in life..large and small. Glad you are my "fiber cuz".

Denise said...

Oh Lindy- my heart aches for you. We lost 2 friends to cancer last year and have another dear friend fighting the good fight right now. It's so hard. But I love your attitude. It's the same one Rusty and I attempting to adopt. We're trying to do a little more- spend time with folks we care about a little more- and appreciate each other and our family just a little bit more. There's beauty everywhere and I love finding in in unexpected places. You, my sweet friend, are a beautiful soul. I'm enjoying getting to know you and look forward to our continuing friendship. Thanks for sharing.

Dianne@sheepdreams said...

What a heartfelt post, Lindy. Life seems fleeting and none of us know when our time is up. If we are awake, we all know we have so much to be grateful for, so why waste a second of the time we have left! Thanks for the reminder to "Carpe Diem".