Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nothing very good or very bad lasts for very long

This morning I got a phone call from an old friend with whom I had not spoken in nearly 30 years.  She was a friend from the days when I worked in the lumber mill outside Klamath Falls. A brief and carefree time.  A time when consequence had yet to catch up with bad behavior.  

Oh, but the day was dawning.

We were young people set to set out into the world.  I tried to recall and then recalled a day when she and I and my dog Pippin had gone fishing along the Klamath River outside Keno.  Pippin had run off through the sage and the stubborn grasses that grow among the broken-tooth lava.  She'd run after him and paused out in the rough, and looked back, laughing and squinting, and I was troubled.  She was the woman of my roommate and my friend, even though at that time, everything was ambiguous.  And that was a moment when I made a decision about friendship and nobility.  And so I have that memory, which is the memory I have of my friend.

Her news was not good.  The very friend and roommate I knew, who later became her husband and the father of her children, and later yet became her ex-husband, is mortally ill.  A malignant tumor has developed on the left fore-lobe of his brain.  There is but a short time left to him.  She gave me his phone number and the name of the hospital.  "I wanted you to have the opportunity to speak with him," she said.  "If you wanted to."  Life comes at you in this way.

So I went out for a walk.  The park was full of people.  I eaves-dropped on the young people singing in the tree, and on the brace of boys, cousins, led by a jolly uncle who sang Sinatra on the trail, and on the strong young people jogging up the mountain who met the strong young people jogging down the mountain and paused to breathlessly laugh and converse.  They spoke in gasps, with their hands on their hips.

And everything they said, all of them --every single word --was about life and about joy and happiness.

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