So, last week, my next door neighbor died. Her name was Norma, and she was 63. She had bone cancer, which is pretty damn painful. It's just about one of the most painful things you can ever have, a 10 on a 10 scale. She had it about 5 years ago or so, and got through it the first time, but it took a LOT out of her and she was never quite the same in the time following. When it relapsed, she didn't last very long, maybe 3 months. None of this is all that remarkable, in and of itself. People get sick. People die - it's part of a normal life cycle I suppose. But it pisses me off.
Norma was one of the nicest, sweetest people I've ever met. I've met some very nice people, I've met some not-so-nice people, so I do have a sense of perspective. She was on the far right side of the bell curve. She was basically an old hippie - a liberal Unitarian - and after her mother passed away she lived alone (she lived with her mother when I moved here). I don't believe she was ever married, and she never had any children. She was a really good neighbor in the sense that she never was anything but pleasant, cheerful, and friendly. She was not the most robust person in the world, physically, so I would try and do little things to help her, like shovel a little bit of snow or blow leaves, stuff like that.
And it really pisses me off that people like her, people like my friend Tim's Mom, Shirley, people like my own Mom, don't get to enjoy the full measure of a lifetime, and enjoy all that life has to offer, and have to suffer horribly before dying. Literally, it feels like they were cheated of some of the best years of their lives, the times when they should be able to enjoy all the love and happiness and charity they've shared, and instead they all got sick and died. How old is old enough to have lived a full life? What's the standard for a quality life? I don't know. I know in my mom's case, all she ever wanted was to be a "granny" (the term she wanted for herself), something she never got to have happen. I suspect there are things that Shirley and things that Norma would have liked to have happen or done and weren't able to do, either.
I have a very difficult time rationalizing there is a "God" when I think about things like this. My friend Steve, in the midst of a heated discussion, accused me of not having any faith. He's 100.00% right- I don't have HIS faith, or faith by his standards, and I never will. And I am damn proud of that. There is no way a "God" allows people like Norma to suffer, allows people like Shirley to suffer, people who were nothing but kind and friendly and loving. Good people, the kind of who make the lives better for those they meet. It's when these people get "cheated" that I get angry.
I do have faith - I have faith in my friends, faith in my family. Frankly, I don't care what anyone else believes, which is why I'm so anti-religion (specifically organized ones) especially for myself. I think people can and should believe whatever they want, as long as it doesn't bother, hurt or impact other people in a negative way. You want to be Islamic, Catholic, Methodist, Jewish, Unitarian, or a Scientologist? Great, go be happy - just keep it to yourself as far as I'm concerned and don't judge me because I don't share your beliefs. Honestly, I completely respect whatever it is you want to believe and makes you feel good, just give me the same latitude. But I digress.
Norma is gone, her house will be empty soon and then it won't be. I'll remember her, all her kookiness and eccentricities, and I'll miss her from time to time. I supposed I could draw solace from the fact she's not in pain anymore, but that seems a rather empty concept to me. More than likely, I'll just hope that whatever good might come of dying, she's able to have that happen for her - she certainly earned it.