Commonwealth Journal

Columns

June 21, 2014

Without the past, there is no present

(Continued)

One journal ended in February of 197; the next picked up in August. His moments spent looking back on his life, sharing regrets in the company of his brother of “things that were and shouldn’t have been, and things that never were and should have been.” Each day, the temperature was logged dutifully, even as the thoughts became more random, scattered — still in that majestic way manner of speaking he had, like a British lord, but more stream-of-consciousness.
This was the man who, maybe more than almost anyone else, is responsible for the person I became. It hurts today to read these things, to see this picture painted in words of a great soul becoming so vulnerable, but I love that he wrote these things down so I could feel so connected with him, so many years apart.
The last entry, with its ominous beginning, was recorded on Friday, February 17, 1989. A few weeks later, on March 22, he would pass away. He never bothered to start another journal. That page was the last one that he would write.
It’s fitting then that the rain had stopped, as he said. The darkest days of a good man’s life were coming to a close. It was time for him to go to a better place, to be relieved of his pain. Even at that young age, I knew that. I was sad to lose him, but happy that he no longer suffered. He certainly didn’t deserve to go through that daily struggle just to breathe, even with the aid of the oxygen tank to which he was bound.
Life’s funny that way. There is an odd symmetry to it. It is full of little twists, coincidences too sharp to ignore, serendipity and clever ironies. It’s a poem that’s constantly written by all of us, written by God, written by the stars. And it’s expressed through our words and deeds, whether we realize it or not.

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