Sunday, November 22, 2009


I'm tired this evening. Sad, and restless, with a disturbing sense of unfulfilled promise.

The immediate cause of this discomfort was our weekend trip to our alma mater on the occasion of the death of a college friend by her own hand. Suicide is always difficult for survivors to work their way through -- and I say that having observed it way too many times, including two of my husband's siblings. This particular suicide is especially hard to understand, as the victim was widely known in the region for tenacious environmental advocacy. That she could care so deeply for and work so hard on behalf of all the planet's creatures, yet dismiss the value of her own life, is something I have a hard time resolving in my own mind and heart. That she could have been in such emotional pain is painful to all those she left behind.

Such an occasion, of course, brings together people who in happier times never quite get around to connecting, and this was no exception. So a few of us, friends of four decades who have gone our separate ways but maintain a cosmic connection, gathered to reminisce about our friend, catch up on each others' lives and retrace our steps in old college haunts. We were surprised how small the bar district really was, how many bars were packed into it, and what a short walk it actually was from our dorm-- an entirely different experience on a Sunday morning in 2009 than what we recalled from Saturday nights in the early 70s.

We stepped into the dorm where we'd met all those years ago, noting the remodeling of what had been a comfortably shabby common area where students in our era convened to play cards, organize lawn volleyball games and debate issues of the day, into a far more efficient, but far less inviting, lobby space. We walked across the campus, remembering classes we'd taken (or skipped), adventures we'd plotted.

Forty years gone by in the blink of an eye. And for me, little more than an eye-blink accomplished.

So as I struggle to understand my friend's choice, I'd better appreciate that she actually made lasting contributions to wildlife habitat in our state and living conditions for her fellow citizens.

That the friends with whom I reminisced, a nurse and physician, have quite literally saved people's lives.

That my dues for the space and resources I've consumed thus far remain to be paid. Time draws short to get it done.

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