October 20, 2014

I still can’t believe it. Laying in the dark of my self-induced isolation, barricaded behind an iron wall of solitude, I sit alone, my mind like the first dead leaf of fall, ready to fall at the slightest breeze or whisper. Frightened, I know that once the first leaf falls the rest aren’t far behind. It dawns on me. I couldn’t hide in the dark any longer. I had to face the day alone, but my Sunshine was gone.
My friend, Chris “Sunshine” Casey, had abruptly passed away three days earlier due to complications of brain cancer.
I awake from another restless night to face the cruel facts of life. My body feels like it’s weighed down by the thousands of unsaid words, untold jokes, wasted worries, and even the ghost of my guilt. All the things that seemed arbitrary in the past moments weighed on my mind like an elephant balancing atop a peanut. Guilty thoughts even begin to cloud my mind. “Could I have changed this?” “Could I have made his last days, his best?” He was taken with such speed that I never had the chance to say goodbye. I cringe at the thought that I never got to look, for one last time, into the eyes of my brother that I would never see again.
Clouded in a fog of thought, I find myself absently mindedly wondering to a forgotten skate park Sunshine and I used to frequent. Sitting on the familiar bench it occurs to me, this is where we had first met. Awestruck, I caught myself watching a few of the younger kids skate. They were laughing and having the best time of their short lives. Reeling in jealously of their blissful ignorance, I stared and a stray, self-centered thought crossed my mind. Why are they so happy? Don’t they know my best friend was just ripped out of the world? Why are they so excited, when the same grim fate will place its cold cruel hand upon each of them?
One of them falls, and his skateboard rolls over towards me. I grab it and slowly walk it over to where the kids stood like angels over the body of their fallen friend. “Are you all right?” I asked. “Ah, it’s nothing” says the kid.
After helping him up I handed him his board and say. “Be careful, you could hurt yourself.” Quickly he laughs and asks “Why?”
“So you don’t get hurt” I said.
“So? If I get hurt at least I had fun doing it.”
The rain forces a retreat back to my fortress of solitude. The boy’s words still rung in my ears. Is living a long, safe life really living? It dawned on me that happiness is what makes life worth living. You don’t know if today could be your last day. Life isn’t about being afraid of the dark; life is about finding your joy.
Chris taught me something that day that I will never forget; never take anything for granted.
Your friends and family could be whisked away on a wind, without even a whisper of goodbye or thanks. Appreciate every second you have with them. Even appreciate the small things that seem arbitrary in the moment, but when those moments are gone, the small things are all that’s left.
My Sunshine had returned, breaking through the walls I had enclosed myself in. I live because I know it’s what Chris would have wanted. I live because it’s what I want. I live to help others realize the potential they possess, to help them find their Sunshine, to never let a joke go untold, a song unsung and never let a life go unlived.
Keoni Erickson