In the past few months, I’ve had the unfortunate luck of seeing two great people pass from this earth. One, a close uncle who finally succumbed to a long and hard battle with cancer, and another far younger friend who was suddenly and unexpectedly snatched away in a car accident a week ago.
In the case of my uncle, I could see him fighting a losing battle, and in the least, time gave me a chance to brace for the inevitable. In the case of my friend, it happened so suddenly and so swiftly that it was almost incomprehensible. The last time we spoke we were just finishing up our training at stunt school and he was telling me about everything he planned to do in the next few years to get himself established in the entertainment industry.
In both cases however, they were both decent, hardworking, spirited individuals who certainly seemed to deserve better than the fate they were given, and I struggled to find meaning in the loss. If there’s one thing that has helped me come to terms with the loss of both however, it is the fact that in both cases, the loss has given me reason to reassess myself, and my own life.
In the case of my uncle, his battle reminded me that I can always do better to take care of my own body. His early passing was a reminder to both use it and care for it while its still strong, instead of waiting until something’s wrong, and trying to play a game of catch up. As any doctor will tell you, a healthy body heals faster, better and more completely than an unhealthy one, and the alternative has shown me that perhaps it’s worth it to eat all those veggies I don’t like, (and forgo those sweets I do) to maintain that strength.
In the case of my friend, the loss made it blisteringly clear that I shouldn’t complain about my struggles, because the fact of the matter is, I am still here, and he is not. He reminded me that I am blessed with both health and opportunity in life, even if I need to fight for both. He reminded me that friends are not to be taken for granted, because regardless of how we plan for it, life may have its own plan.
As a fighter, I’ve always felt that the greatest lessons you learn don’t come from your victories; they come from your losses. While it’s the victories and wins that give you the confidence to push forward and constantly test your limits, it is the losses that remind you to be cautious as you do. Perhaps, outside of the ring, it’s the same with personal losses as well.
We have all heard the stories of people who have won Olympic gold, made their first million, and otherwise conquered challenges after losing a loved one, and perhaps therein lies the meaning of the loss. My uncle’s early passing has made me determined to do as my father did and beat prostate cancer before it beats me, and my friend Noe’s passing has made me that much more determined to actualize my half of the plans we discussed in our last conversation and to complete the journey that he will never have the chance to. I can’t help but think that in doing so, I can bring a part of them with me; and if not, in the least, wherever they are right now, I can give them a reason to look down and smile.
RIP Uncle Bob, and Noe. Thank you for reminding me of what counts and see you when I get there.