Touched by Illness

What is one of the most challenging issues you face? For me, it knows people who are combatting COVID, cancer, and diabetes. I’ve lost two friends over the last few years to diabetes. It’s one of the diseases that I wish to become extinct. I think of Alex, who lost his life before the age of 40 to that damn disease, and it angers me. Alex was one of the most gifted saxophone players I’ve ever heard perform. His faith was so strong in God. He inspired those of us who knew him best never to give up faith in God. When we went to dinner, he’d make a point of saying a blessing for the food we were consuming. He wanted his friends to know they could call him anytime, and he would be there. One night, I was crying my heart out over a man I love with all my heart. Alex, hands me a kleenex, pulls me in for a giant hug and lets me sob on his shoulder. After I cried my heart out, Alex wiped the tears from my face, and looked me dead in the eye, and said, “One day, you are going to find that God is carrying you through your heartache. So basically, you have to trust him. If you love this man, and he isn’t reciprocating your actions, then you need to move forward.” I thought about what he said long and hard. I knew he was right. I was putting my heart and trust in someone that wasn’t willing to communicate. Alex said I needed to focus on myself and learn to love myself. The rest would fall into place.

I met Alex through my friend Darla. But Alex wasn’t the only one that has succumbed to serious illnesses that I was close to. I had another friend named Alex that was killed in a car accident before he had a chance to marry I met Alex through my friend Darla. But Alex wasn’t the only one that has succumbed to severe illnesses that I was close to over the years. I had another friend named Alex, killed in a car accident before he had a chance to marry the love of his life. Alex was in a band with me. He was a hell of a guitarist. At the time, I could sing pretty well. We were into Rock n Roll, and we were performing at a few local venues. As we started gaining notoriety, Alex told me that we needed to talk. He said to me that there was more to life and that I had the best opportunity to get out of where I was out of the five of us. He said, “You’ve got too much education under your belt, your smart, cute, and you don’t take shit. Get out of this scene while you can before it destroys you.” I found out a few years later that Alex died in that car accident, but he was dying from liver disease. My heart sank.

Cancer has taken some family members, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. I can’t tell you all their names because it would take up about a book. What I can tell you is that every one of them taught me how to admit when I need help, stop living in fear, and seize every moment and opportunity that I can. We all have issues that we deal with throughout our lifetimes.

Why am I telling you this? It’s hard when people you love are sick or dying. It’s easy to walk away from the faith, allow anger and frustration to take over, and immerse yourself in knowledge. Whatever you do, take care of yourself in the process. You won’t do anyone else or yourself any good if you wear yourself out.

If you have folks in your life that have left this earth, remember things that make you smile. I only remembered their conversations after finding a journal over the weekend that contained dialogue from those encounters. Several people impacted the decisions I made and still make to this day. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the men and women who made me stronger by their lessons.

Sometimes, having others confide in help when we are struggling with being there for those who are ill. It’s okay. There are resources available. What’s essential is you reach out to get help when it feels like there is no way out. We all have people touched by illness in our lives. We have to remember that disease can take a person’s body, but it can’t take away the legacy they leave behind. Strength isn’t always easy, but it’s a part of learning to stand when our legs are wobbly. Believing in God got me through some of the darkest hours with losing people I love. Maybe that’s not for you. Perhaps you are the type of person that believes you can do things on your own. If that’s the case, then I think you have to consider what’s right for you. When we focus on what we can do, it doesn’t matter what illness or disease tries to take us down. Faith moves mountains. Since I believe heavily in God, I think that God is in control. Others who don’t think so will combat that theory. Lots of people believe in what they can see or explain. I get it. One of the Alex men that I was friends with thought that way too. Yet, he comes to me in dreams. He’s told me in many different goals that I can’t let the loss of those I love get in the way of living my life. He’s right.

I I hope this day brings you peace, opportunities, and a chance to reflect for a moment on those left behind. When we acknowledge those in the rearview mirror, we can see the openings in front of us. Have a great day, everyone.

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