It is a time of much turmoil for some in my world. Last night a lovely old friend had one of his fabulous House Parties that he's been putting on for about 25 years. He is a much respected musician here in Christchurch and he played and sang last night with some excellent and well renowned guys on piano, keyboards, horns and guitar. They came along as a tribute to play one last time with our friend Steve, who's cancer has ravaged his body with a fierce vengance, even after the most valiant fight, with many organic juices daily, seaweed extracts, THC extracts, cancer retreats and everything he could throw at it. Mainly a very brave, positive and heroic attitude, and a profound trust that he would beat it. In November another friend had a massive party in honour of Steve, out in the country in his purpose build "70's night club" where they re-formed three seventies Christchurch bands, including Steve's band Sentry, almost completely with it's original members. It was an amazing, memorable and beautiful night, as was last night. Although his voice was a bit ragged and scratchy, that just added another dimension and Steve's performance was outstanding. It was quieter, and deep and soulful, and had a realness and rawness to it that could only possibly have come from the dreadful news he has had earlier this week. From the knowledge that although he will play his guitar again, this was likely to be the last time he will do it for all of us, his friends and his beautiful and brave family, who still have so much to face. It was a poignant and beautiful evening and it was a priviledge to be there. It is humbling to witness the raw pain and the strength, simultaneously, of his wonderful wife and daughter, and of Steve himself.
I am so glad I started going to his garden parties again when I first gave up alcohol. Daytime music events close to home, where I at least knew some people, seemed like just the ticket for me when newly single and also learning to socialise sober. As a result, it has rekindled a 45 year friendship with Steve, and allowed me to get to know his gorgeous wife Marion, and see and get to know more of his family and friends, making new friends in the process.
A few short years ago my brother had almost the exact same cancer diagnosed and experienced a ghastly year of extreme surgeries and some horrific chemo treatment. Miraculously he has survived it, and for this we are all overwhelmingly grateful.
In the recent Port Hills bush fires, just ten days ago, he and his family watched their beautiful home of 30 years burn to the ground at 7.30 in the morning, after being kept safe all night by over a hundred firemen fighting the blaze. How strange life is, that so much can be dished out so unevenly. That one family should bear such fear of loss of life, and hideous illness, survive it, only to have to suffer such a terrible shock and loss. I wonder if perhaps the very fact of what they went through just a couple of years ago, makes them the people who are strong enough to face this next big massive inconvenience and sadness. Their loss is enormous, they got almost nothing out, yet they know first hand that their loss could have been far greater. They are strong and stoic, all of them, even the grown up children, who have only known this one home for their whole lives. It really is an enormous blow and loss for them all.
The loss of alcohol from one's life is such a small thing when compared to real loss.
There are always gains to be had from loss. With alcohol it's a no-brainer. The gains so far outweigh the loss, I don't even need to go on about that, as I've done so many times in my previous blogs. I am grateful to be a person with the clarity of mind at all times to be able to communicate clearly and to give support if I can to those I love, and who are hurting.
Somewhere, and some how, there is always an opportunity in the crisis. Often it is just bringing people closer together. Sometimes it is more than that, and paths can change, a deeper purpose can emerge, and lives can be enriched by the very loss they are suffering.
May my friends and my family navigate their sad and difficult paths with continued strength and bravery, and with the knowledge that they are loved, admired for their courage, and deeply respected.