Taking Stock of Life- A General Accounting

Did you ever think that you would hear these three names together:

Gerald Ford, James Brown, Saddam Hussein.

I didn’t think so. This part of the post is called Jack’s avoiding the topic. Today I received news that really bothers me. A dear friend of mine has angiosarcoma of the lungs. I won’t spend a lot of time trying to explain this to you all. Perhaps one of the docs wants to take that on. I am not trained for that.

What I can tell you is that this is a nasty cancer and that my friend’s docs are not able to provide a real time line. I can tell you that this friend of mine is all of 37 and has purchased a plot. I can tell you that every thing that I read about this suggests that we are not going to have all that much time left together.

I have lost too many friends already and the thing that kills me about this is that I cannot say that it is just one. That would be one too many. No, it is more than that. Some of you died from cancer and some were lost in auto accidents and a couple of you committed suicide. I won’t claim that we were all close, but I was exceptionally close to some of you.

When I close my eyes I can see us. It is summertime and we are in running around the beach. It is Tisha B’Av and we are on a hillside in Jerusalem reading Eicha. It is Winter and we are running around Buffalo telling stupid stories about what life is like for Jewish teens on our island home in Maui.

When I close my eyes I see you all. We are young and vibrant and so very alive. The future is bright. I can hear you speak. I haven’t forgotten you. I haven’t left you to rot in the dust, but I don’t carry the pain of your loss in my pocket anymore.

But with this news it brings it all back. It reminds me of those I have had to leave behind. It reminds me of just how much good there is in my life. Because if I didn’t remind myself it would be too easy to just wallow in this.

I learned from you all. I learned from the experiences both good and bad. They helped me to grow, sometimes faster than I wanted to.

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I saw Rocky Balboa. I had to. I love stories like that. I love the watching the underdog fight his/her way to the top. During the movie Rocky gives this speech about life. He discusses how life can beat you down. In essence he says that it is not about hard you can hit but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.

It sounds like a cliche, doesn’t it. I like it. It makes sense to me. To use another tired cliche life is what you make of it. I can’t stop the cancer. I can’t explain it. I can’t save you and that is hard for me because you know that if I could I would.

You know that if it was that simple I’d pick you up and shield you. You know that if I had the power I would use it. You were there during that awful time in ’98 when we watched ‘D’ fade away and die. You were there because you were part of the group, part of the team.

It was one of those tests of faith. You know that I would and you know that part of what makes this so hard is being placed again in a position in which I feel relatively powerless.

However, as I told you again today, I am not completely without power. I am here. I can and will help. I can take on some of the responsibilities and ease some of the burden. It is not much, but sometimes the hardest thing to do is to accept our limitations.

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I need to clarify one thing. I believe that one of the most important tools we have is our mind. Ani maamin, I believe with all of my being that a strong will and a good attitude can help you weather some of the most terrible storms.

I’ll spare you the tired claptrap I just typed and ask that you keep on fighting. Just keep on fighting and I’ll be there to help you however I can.

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