I lost a friend a few months ago. David wasn't a Facebook friend or someone I met and texted every once in a while--he was a real friend; someone who came over for dinner, gave me notes on my scripts, and talked to me about his own problems. We were friends. We celebrated highs and analyzed lows together. He was a writer who had recently been going through a tough time, both professionally and personally. However, things had just begun to turn around for him. And then, we think, his heart stopped. We still don't know exactly what happened. But he's no longer here.
Like any of you who've lost a close friend know, there is a period of disbelief. Even now---nearly three months after his death, I forget he's gone and then when I remember I can't believe it. The thing about David's death is that shortly afer it, two other people I know died too. Both of these people differed from David in that they had spent a good portion of their lives fighting Cancer. Bottom line-- a friend's death is a hard thing to deal with, talk about and get over. That's why I wanted to write about one of the effects living through these deaths has had on me: I started really thinking about life. Maybe this is common. I don't know. But what I do know is "problems" like adopting a dog that chews everything in sight or having trouble sleeping or having to listen to a middle schooler whine nightly about excessive homework seem damn insignificant after thinking about a family losing someone they love. Or an individual battling a disease. In regards to the latter, can you imagine the daily effort to be positive? The apprehension with every doctor's appointment? It seems so impossible. And yet people do it. They don't allow their bodies to dictate what their minds think. They live their lives with purpose and don't let their problems get a vice grip on their daily existence. If they can do this, I can too. We all can.
David used to say "There's a difference between plot and story." Plot is what's happening. Story is what it means in the larger picture. I think a lot of us get bogged down in plot and lose sight of our stories. Recent events have reminded me that I need to be tracking my story way better than I have been. I'm becoming about just waking up, getting kids off to school and going to work. Is my story full of laughter and discovery and learning? Not if I don't make it so. We have to make the effort to write our stories in a way that will give us satisfaction when we look back on them. So that, yes, when we die, they've brought us a level of fulfillment. So that when we're gone, other people can say they were impacted positively. We owe it to our friends whose lives were cut short to create our very best stories in this world they've now left behind.