Over the weekend my temple held Lakshmi puja along with fireworks to celebrate Diwali. My wife and I were out of town to visit a friend who had recently received a rather grave medical diagnosis and prognosis. A couple of weeks ago we were told that he had cancer in a half a dozen locations and that he probably had 2-6 months to live. So we allowed him enough time to digest the news and figure out how he was going to proceed, but then made plans to go and visit him, which fell this Saturday.
As it happens, my friend had just had further tests done this Friday to determine whether the cancer had some sort of mutation with which they could work and prolong his time here. At this point it seems that the cancer is such that he could live another one to three years depending on how well he takes care of himself. This weekend he was even talking about going back to work next year some time. He wants to put in that one last year before retirement age comes upon him, you see. That is just the kind of man he is. This, from a man who recently had fluid around his heart (cancer related) and if he had not caught that, could have been gone very suddenly.
Even though my friend has always been an upbeat, positive person, I expected – understandably I thought – to find him this weekend depressed, not quite himself. He was completely himself, though maybe a little more philosophical in his comments about the current situation.
My wife and I were told by my mother ahead of time about the new prognosis before we visited him. I never hoped that the cancer was a total misdiagnosis. I didn’t think that was realistic. But I am grateful that this visit will not be the last time I see him. There is always so much baggage one carries into a conversation with someone they love, knowing it is the last time they will see that person. I didn’t want it to be that way. I’ve respected and admired him for so long, and I would never know exactly what to say, with that knowledge hanging over my head, and with the imminence of it all hanging over his head.
But, knowing the kind of man he is, and knowing the kind of life he has conscientiously led, I am not worried for him after this life. I think we all worried for him in the pain he would be facing ahead as the end of his life came, were the cancer as aggressive as we thought it might be.
We came there to lighten things up. Being Diwali time, that was all I wanted, to bring light. And I believe we did find light. He and I both. It was what could have been a somber visit, but we found that which had given us a good giggle as friends for years. Though we did discuss his current situation with some degree of earnest, we also continued the insult-hurling contest he and I have been cheekily engaged in for the past two decades.
Remember to find and cultivate light wherever you can find it, friends. It is everywhere. Even in the seemingly darkest of times.
Aum Gum Ganapataye Namaha
Aum Dhanvantari Namah
Jai Hare Ram