“This will probably be the last time I will ever drive home to Norfolk.” While this statement from one of my old buddies hit me like a brick, it was not unexpected.
Years ago, Ward and I used to goof off and hang out together in this small, Northeast Nebraska city. He eventually moved to Lincoln and became involved in the theatre crowd. He also met his future husband there as well. We fell out of touch as friends often do when they relocate.
A few years later, he and his husband moved to Denver, Colorado and bought a house. More years passed and his husband passed away after a lengthy chronic illness. Two years ago, Ward decided to pay a surprise visit to me at my house. That’s when he filled me in about the events that took place during the gap when we had lost touch with each other. That’s also when he said he has multiple sclerosis.
After he returned home to Denver, we checked in with each other through Facebook because he isn’t much into letter writing, emailing, nor phone-calls. Also, Covid came up last year, so there was no facetime last year. Then, late last month, Ward dropped by my house unexpectedly again. We enjoyed a pleasant visit despite his worsening health. It was upon his parting that he stated he wouldn’t be able to drive his vehicle much longer–especially lengthy trips.
Since then, I’ve been thinking about my friend and the many ordeals he’s been through. He remains outwardly cheerful in his daily dealings, but I know he’s suffering within. Ward is one more reminder that our time on Earth elapses faster and faster as we age. With each passing day we may face challenges or perhaps an existential crisis. If we do not fall into the trap of mundane routine, we are given the challenge and opportunity to make the most of each day.
As I remember what Ward told me about his life, I again realize how each of us travels our journeys and that the path of life takes us to mental and physical places that seem unimaginable. Our destinations are not necessarily the ones we intended. We believe one thing, then it turns out that we mistook fantasy for reality. Perhaps there is time to backtrack, but it may be the case that it is too late to do so. These are the seeds of regrets and our eventual acceptance of what was, is, and will be.
According to the most recent data and theoretical reckoning, the Universe exists indefinitely. However, our bodies do not. The body does not exist a second time. At best, it is possible for some of us to live 100 years, give or take a few. The days which we are allotted slip by swiftly in hindsight. It is easy to take our days for granted and assume that we will enjoy countless more of them.
Those, who wasted their lives or who were led down the garden path will encounter regret and sorrow. Meanwhile, those who engage more fully with life live happier, more joyful lives, despite their limitations. Sometimes the joy arises out of limitation.
The Blue Jay of Happiness contemplates a line from critic, essayist, and novelist, Marcel Proust. “Time passes, and little by little, everything that we have spoken in falsehood becomes true.”