In the midst of busy lives, we must make room for joy and sadness, sometimes simultaneously. My friend Beth passed away a few days ago, after an illness of several months. Beth's brain cancer had been in remission for a number of years, but when it recurred, all courses of treatment were ineffective.
Beth was someone that very few of you knew; she was a colleague of mine in my immediately past life as a non-profit guy. She was a program officer at the foundation that funded our work, and for 5 years, I worked closely with her, travelled with her, and saw her only a few times a year, when the winds of work put us in the same city.
Beth was full of the joy of life, and I know that she wanted us all to revel in it, and to remember only good things now, to remember her as she lived. My favorite time with her was in Beijing 3 years ago; we shared a stunningly inexpensive meal at an out-of-the-way local restaurant. I had chicken so spicy that the hostess was dashing to wash off pieces of it in a finger bowl to spare my delicate American sensibilities. I blushingly declined. The next day, my last in Beijing (and the first day I had an opportunity for sightseeing), we went to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City in the rain, accompanied by another colleague. Twice, Beth yanked my braindead tourist ass out of the path of fast-moving police vehicles (sidewalks in Beijing are a dicey proposition sometimes, especially for those of us with heads tucked firmly in our hinders).
Beth and I were opposites; you know me as relatively dark and brooding and cynical, and she was far more positive, in a northwest rainforest crunchy sort of way. Despite that difference, our friendship thrived. She always chose to believe in the best in me, no matter what the surface evidence showed, and no matter what I thought of myself. That's a gift for which I will always be grateful.
I have to cry for Beth, long and hard, but I know I must let it pass. I owe her that.
Goodbye, my friend. All good things...