Still sick, I had to cancel plans with my friend Alex to participate in the AIDS walk in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. I was really sad to do this. Not only was I looking forward to the 6-mile walk (great exercise), I was excited because it's a family friendly event that I planned to bring Monkey along to. It was sure to be a nice time. But it's been cold lately, and I knew we needed to rest up and get better before we leave on vacation next week. I also didn't want to get anyone else sick. So yeah, we skipped it.
I managed to sleep in a bit, which almost never happens, so while I didn't feel any better this morning, I also didn't feel any worse. And having planned to be home for the day, I was able to sit in for
Today's New Activity: Watching the FIFA Women's World Cup Finals
I'll admit I'm a bandwagon soccer fan. I didn't grow up watching or playing soccer, so I have no emotional connection to the sport. I like it when I watch it, but I usually only do that during the World Cup--and only the Men's World Cup at that. But I've been paying enough attention to know that the US Women's team has done an amazing job during this tournament, and I definitely wanted to catch their chance at the finals, versus Japan.
There was a lot of talk about how Japan was the sentimental favorite, given the tragedy of March's earthquake and tsunami and all the deaths that came as a result. Nobody would have been upset to see them win; quite the contrary is probably true.
So although it was tough to see the US team miss so many goal opportunities and lose a close one in penalty kicks after an overtime, it was heartwarming to see the Japanese women take this emotional win back to their country...an added measure of pride and hope for all the people back home. Yes, that was nice to see.
That was the end of the nice reportings for the day.
A few hours after the game I received a shocking text from my friend Nessa that our mutual friend and (former for me, current for her) coworker William had died in his sleep earlier this afternoon. William was recently diagnosed with cancer, but he'd started treatment and by all accounts was doing well. He'd reported feeling good and being in good spirits lately, and had only hours earlier posted a comic strip on his Facebook page.
A call from Alex (with whom I was supposed to do the walk this morning)--who'd visited William just yesterday--revealed that William's sister came home this afternoon and found him unresponsive after apparently having just laid down for a nap, and attempts to revive him had failed.
William was 37. It's such a terribly tragedy for the family, made worse by the fact that his sister, also under 40, had died suddenly of complications related to a heart condition just two years ago.
It was such a terrible shock, and I know the group of friends who knew William is reeling from it. We don't know yet the cause of death, and the thought that he could just go to sleep one afternoon and not wake up is as sobering as it is upsetting. I've experienced the deaths of people I know--older people who I knew would pass before me. But the death of a coworker and peer is new, sad territory.
And this is the thought too, whenever I hear about a death and have the time to really think about it: Where is William now? Where is he? Where did the entity, the person we knew as "William" go to? Just like that. He was here and then he was gone. And to where?
I know that people who are members of most religions would say they know the answer to this question. Or at least they could narrow it down to a few choices. But I'm not convinced. I still don't know how anyone living could really know what happens after we die. Or even if some people do somehow have an idea of the "what," for sure nobody has a clue about the "how"... the how it feels, the what it looks like, the who else is there, the how long it takes to get to the next step. Oh my gosh...when I really think about it? Really and truly? I'm terrified.
The idea of nothingness to follow is terrifying. The idea of eternity is equally terrifying to me. And it's that final moment I think about the most: the moment when what we know of a person switches over from "here" to... where/what/nowhere/nothing (?)
Today I understand why people try to communicate with the deceased. All afternoon and evening I was having these thoughts: 'William, where are you now? Can you just send a little sign and especially let me know if you know what's going on down here? That people down here are sorry to hear of your passing? Are missing you? Can you let us in on the secret?'
But I know that is not possible. I know that the mystery of death is that it remains a mystery to all of us until it is our turn. And writing about this...I'm really, really sad that William's turn came so soon.