In my younger days, both in foreign lands and on the battlefield I have lost my best friend and the very person whom I owed my own life to because of him watching my back every minute of every day. I knew him better then I know my own family and trusted my life to him, and his to me, almost hourly over the course of 18 months of combat. That loss was for me was both overwhelming and complete. Apart from the feelings of why did I live and he die, I felt totally alone. It was the most painful episode of my life. Frankly, I never have forgotten that loss and the color and joy of my own life was somehow lessened by the loss of his. I never thought I would recover. 5 years later, on the high flank of Annapurna in the cold and wind swept Himalayas, I lost my climbing partner and best friend to a bad fall. I held his hand and tried in vain to staunch the flow of blood as he took his last breath there at 25,000 feet and my tears of sorrow were frozen in the grizzly cold. We carried his lifeless body out on lines strung between us and there was not a breath taken where I was not reminded of him there wrapped up tight in a red nylon bag as we carried him out to base camp 2.
In the years that followed, I met a woman of character and bravery, beautiful to my eye, and of great depth. I married her, raised a family and we have been together for over 33 years. I somehow endured my daughters battle with cancer at age 14 and 3 long years of surgery, chemo and radiation treatments. Thankfully, she survived and is doing well. Now though, so many years later, I am actually comforted because of my association with them all, because they somehow made me a better man and, while the pain of these losses are always with me, I think back and smile at my fortune and how enriched I have become because of their personal influence. I also know and gain comfort from that I was there to offer support and offer what love I had to give in their passing. No words were spoken but knowing I was there to the end I think helped. Loss is part of life and we all are bound to it. It is how you personalize those losses that define you. The pain never actually leaves me but my wounds now are healed and just a scar remains as evidence of the once overwhelming trauma. The devistating loss now is simply part of me and no longer rules my waking thoughts. In time, if you allow it, the open and raw emotions do skin over and become less painful but they never go away.
You never know what is to come next. That perhaps is the only constant in our lives. I know it's difficult right now but new and exciting adventures lay ahead if you allow them to occur. Carpe Dium! Sieze the day and live like there is no tomorrow because there may not be. Do not waste another minute of your precious life fixed on the past. Be thankful of your sweet adventures with a loved one lost content that both of you were rewarded in life from your association with the other and if you believe in reincarnation, we will again be blessed with their associations in the future. Somehow that single thought gives me now great comfort for perhaps, if the stars all align in the right way, I'll finally be able to say to them, "Thank you".
My thoughts are with you in this hour of profound loss,
-Paul R. Haller-