After recently losing a friend to lung cancer, I had a reality check.
Am I living the kind of life that I want? What am I really doing with my life? Is it filled with meaning and purpose? Does my work make me excited to get up in the morning and create? Does it make me feel happy and fulfilled despite the late nights and the stressed-out mind?
My friend, Carla, was an advocate of following your bliss no matter what it is and living the kind of life you want to live. Being the kind of person you’re inspired to become. Continuously working at pursuing your goals while navigating “adulting” moments.
Remembering her is still raw and hits me unexpectedly–I could be on a car ride and in my mind I’d be on one of those late night parked car conversations with Carla, gushing all about how my love for this person inspired me to write poems. And she would tell me to keep on writing, that what I’m doing is a wonderful thing. Then I’d snap back to reality and the grim realization that we would never have an intimate conversation ever again or trade adulting notes. I would never hear her laugh or see her crinkly-eyed amusement at my stories.
Loss teaches us the hardest life lessons. Losing Carla gave me the guts to look at mortality in the eye and be afraid of her less. Because the only way to keep soldiering on every day is if you treat mortality as a collaborator, and not the enemy.
Life goes on and must go on despite loss. And in moving forward, I realized that I need to do work–not just any work–creative work that makes me happy every day, that inspires me to grow, to be a better and kinder person, to help others, to be more compassionate, giving, and loving. To be more than just surviving from payday to payday. To squeeze out every little ounce of potential and possibility I have in me. To share my gifts with the world. To live with no regrets. Yes, even when there are people I loved and trusted, and decisions I’ve made that make me feel like wiping the slate clean. To look at problems, hurts, and setbacks as learning experiences, not mistakes.
Losing Carla was a wake-up call. Of the briefness of life. Of the certainty of death. Of the unfairness of loss. But mostly, of the need to live with more purpose and authenticity so that when our time comes, no matter when it is, we can leave behind everyone and everything we hold dear with no regrets.
Maybe that’s my friend’s biggest legacy. To constantly be an inspiration to us, we who were lucky to have known her and to have spent time with her. To spend our lives doing what we love to do. To pay it forward by doing good to others in whatever way we can alongside the pursuit of our goals and passions.
I hope that as I continue my journey here on Earth, that I can live with purpose and meaning, love and happiness, and with satisfaction that I am on the right path to pursuing my dreams and building the home I’ve envisioned for myself.
Thank you, Carla for being a light to us. For knocking some sense into me before it’s too late. Even from the other side, you’re still sharing your pearls of wisdom to us.
We miss you and we’ll love you always.