I had a conversation last night. Not a light conversation about cat memes and vacations but a legit life-altering conversation. It was one of those rare times where the content was so heavy, that my mind was struggling to process the details in its entirety and I found myself speechless. A dear friend communicated that she had mere months to live. “3rd battle of cancer”, she said. I was shocked. 3rd BATTLE? Where the hell was I for the first two battles? How the hell did I not know about this? “This can’t be true!” I shouted in my head. It was at that moment that my brain shut off for a good 10 seconds. The time was ticking.
What do I say? What can I possibly say in this situation? How do I provide any comfort to someone that has just been informed that they are going to die? What is my role? The only thing that made any sense to me was simply to say that I was here, with her, present, right there in her moment, for whatever she needed to tell me, for whatever she needed me to tell her. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I went a good minute before acknowledging that I hadn’t even been breathing. The reality of this news kicked me down so hard that I felt physical pain. “It just can’t be.” I took a deep breath.
I realized that while incredibly saddened by this news, in that exact moment, it wasn’t for me to put that energy back onto her. It wasn’t my role to intervene in her process by inserting the discomfort of my very own. It was my job to listen. Listen as she communicated her wishes for her loved ones, a desire for them to see their worth. Listened to how she meticulously planned out her final days, ashes to be released high in the air by skydiving friend. “I want to be as free as possible,” she said. I listened intently to the things she wanted to complete before her time was up; a trip to Mexico, connecting with her village and I listened to her pain. I was at complete attention as she described the difficulty she was having with eating and constant fatigue, self-reflecting on her life with the feeling of not accomplishing enough with her time. I listened.
She had come to terms with her fate. She had not come to terms with her own self-worth, however. This was plaguing her. The thought that she could have done more and should have done more for her loved ones was overwhelming. The feeling of failure was deafening. The time was ticking.
So here is what I remember. I remember back in 2002-2003 living in Seattle, WA, and my 7-year relationship had just ended abruptly. I had been accepted and enrolled in a music school in LA and it was too far forward to back out now. My heart was broken. I didn’t eat and I didn’t sleep and after a very stressful time, I decided to leave early to my mom’s home in Vegas because I simply couldn’t be in that house any more while I waited to leave for school. The moment I arrived in Vegas, I went to see my friend who lived there to socialize and try to forget about my pain. She embraced me with open arms. We talked for hours, danced for even more hours and for that moment in time, I was ok. I knew I was going to be ok. Regardless of the intense pain I was feeling, she listened. She didn’t try to convince me out of my pain. She didn’t try to tell me to forget it or to let it go. She simply listened. Even after leaving Vegas for school, she made sure I was ok. New city, new mission, new people and a very broken me was a weird sensation. Part of me was embracing the transition and the other part of me was lingering in a very dark place, trying to make sense of the new cards I was holding in my hands. Still, she listened. She sat up late for hours talking to me on the phone. She helped me to learn myself again and allowed me every opportunity to fall down, which I did frequently. I lost a lot of people in my life during that time but I gained a very important friend. Once that hasn’t left since and one that has always been a giant supporter of both me the person and me the artist. Words cannot express my gratitude for our friendship and for the time she spent just making sure I would make it back out. Words cannot express the love that I feel for her honesty and desire to help the world. I remember her stepping up when many stepped down. I remember her taking care of all those around her until she had nothing left. I remember her always getting back up. I remember how inspiring that was to see. And I carry this with me always. The time is ticking…
This year has been a doozy for me in terms of loss. I have lost many people this year and it’s getting very hard to swallow. I have hit that age where the blindness to our own mortality has awakened and become very, very real. I preach to “love your life” and to take ownership of your mistakes, correcting what you can and being the best person that you can be. I think we all have leaders of this in our lives and my friend is a leader of this in mine. Unfortunately, you can’t convince people to feel this if they can’t see their worth. My wish for her in her final time here is that she truly understands her worth. I want her to know how many lives have been changed in a positive way forever just because of who she is. I want her to know how wonderful she is. And so after listening, I made sure to tell her. I told her how lucky I felt to be her friend and how special our connection is. I told her how grateful I am for the time she has taken out of her life to help me with my own. I told her how much I loved her.
No matter how hard we try, we fall into the patterns and schedules of life and forget that the time is ticking… we neglect to follow through on plans, we avoid conversations believing we can have it another time and we often fail to live in the moment. I woke up this morning feeling both sad and inspired. I sat down and within 15 minutes, a 1 Minute Spit emerged and it felt so right. I know I don’t have many opportunities left to enjoy her here but I am going to do my best to try and enjoy the time we do have.
One of the worst things we can adopt in our thinking is that we have time. We don’t. So make the most of what time you do have. Always.
Out of privacy, I will not be indicating who this individual is as I firmly believe that this is her business to share if she wants to. What I can share is the outcome of our conversation. I think it says it all.
I encourage you to listen to ‘Essence’ on my video page and LISTEN. The time is ticking…