Jam Guy told me this afternoon that he'd heard from a coworker who has friends at my school that my classmate had passed away. I didn't know her; I recognize her by face--she was in one of my classes, and close to graduation. It was D initially who told me about her being diagnosed--less than two months ago!--with stage IV lung cancer in both lungs, which is a shocking diagnosis for a healthy, non-smoking 30-year old. She was the same age as me. I don't know how to honor her life in any real way, because I didn't know her, but I am saddened about the death of someone in my community.
Every day I am grateful--I know I say this all the time. I am grateful for my life in a very large way, but also in smaller ways grateful that I've found a career path that clarifies for me the significance of death within the significance of life, grateful that this path brings me in contact with other people that share similar values, grateful that there is a realistic understanding of death that is part of the practice of being in this field.
What surprises me is that all this understanding does not make acceptance of death any easier.
I know there is a huge element of ego in the fact that I'm so upset by Claire passing away--the fact that she was also 30, also healthy, also loved and in love, also about to graduate and start the career for which we've all sacrificed so much time and energy over the last four or more years. But there it is. It makes me sad and scared, and makes my fear about the precariousness of life swell and roar. It also makes me want to spend all my time connecting with the people I love.
Here is a link to the website that Claire's friends started in order to raise funds for her treatment.