We think we have all the time in the world. At least, I always have. I’m constantly pushing that which could be done now onto tomorrow – always thinking there’s time to do that later.
But this doesn’t apply to anyone, and definitely not to everyone.
You see, I have a friend. A really good friend I met just on three years ago. He’s a great person. I met him playing a game, listened to his problems and laughed when things were going well for him. Sometimes we don’t talk for months, but I always know he’s there just in case. I think he knows it, too.
And then last year, his time ran out. They gave him a count-down. No, it isn’t cancer. It’s Huntingtons. In his mid-twenties the doctor told him he’d be dead by 2020.
I’m the only person who knows.
I get the feeling he only told me because I’m removed in terms of distance. In an online friendship there’s always that safety net. At first I didn’t understand his reasoning. Why not tell the people who care about you, why not have them enjoy their last years with you and be there for you when you need someone to be?
His answer: “It’s amazing how difficult it is to live each day like it’s your last, when you know the ending. When the time comes, I will let go. I don’t want the people I leave behind not to be able to and make both of us suffer because they don’t want to let me go.”
I get it now. In his own way, he’s being selfless. By not telling people, he’s allowing them to live their lives as if nothing has happened, as if he never got that news, because in his mind, it’s not their burden to bare. In a way he’s right.
In a way, he’s the strongest person I’ve ever met. I think I could count on one hand the amount of people I know who have that sort of strength.
They say people who suffer from Huntingtons are prone to depression and suicide. It’s not hard to see why and I worry for him. All I can do for him is be there if he needs me, if he decides he needs to get things off his chest or wants to chat about anything – mundane or serious.
But maybe that’s not all I can do for myself. I can love all of my friends, not squabble for trivial reasons, and be grateful I met my husband. I can get off my arse and write. I can tell myself to stop wasting the precious time I have because not everyone gets enough time to fulfill the dreams they have. I can chase after what I want with an able body and sound mind. And I can damn well not squander the time I’ve been given.
Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your strength. Thank you for letting me in on something so private.
And most of all, thank you for giving me perspective.