Joseph and 4 Amazing Technicolor Reminders
It'll be 7 years ago tomorrow (March 22) that my friend Joe left us.
Free from his pain of a half dozen illnesses, I imagine Joe has not just been soaring with the angels, but probably has been using his newfound status as a spirit to roam dressing rooms occupied by the hottest Broadway dancers. :)
7 years later, Joes death still reminds me to:
1. Never pass up the opportunity to face your fears. I was terrified of hospitals and nursing homes prior to my regular visits with Joe. And the final visit sort of gave every fear a voice - that hospitals and nursing homes are places of death. And yet, I went. And yet, I faced that fear. And yet, I more or less overcame it by having to be in it. It didn't make me less sad, but I could do it. And you can too.
2. Never turn down an invitation to 'fall into friendship'. I only knew Joe sort of from a distance as someone who came to my weekly bingo fundraising events on occasion.... but he asked his friends to have me visit and so I went thinking it would be one and done. And yet, I went back over and over again and we always had great, fun, and had endless talks. I don't think that I entirely understood just how close we'd gotten until those final days.
3. Try as best as you can not to complain. In all the years I was visiting him on a regular basis, I never once heard him feel sorry for himself and where he was at: without biological family, without a job, without much of anything except what a few friends could keep for him and what was in his room. Here was a man who spent years in care facilities and yet he only spoke of 'when' he was back in his own place, not 'if'. That is nothing if not inspirational.
And finally -
4. Life is short. Make it count. Joe didn't care that an outing to an Imperial Court event would drain him for days or cause him to be literally sick or quite possibly land him back in the hospital... he did it because he grabbed every opportunity to take a bite of life. This tenacity and optimism is why I miss him so much.