“The light at the end of the tunnel.” There’s a phrase we have all heard. It has many meanings and implications. Sometimes it refers to the approaching end of a task, the satisfaction anticipated from a job well done. Sometimes it is about shouldering through pain or rough times in the knowledge that it will eventually end, and what follows can only be brighter. Then there are the stories of near death experiences, wherein people relate being drawn towards a light.
I think most tunnels are like the one above, fuzzy and undefined, with the ending obscured by uncertainty, at least until the very last moment. I feel this way especially about death. I have no religious faith. I am neither faithless nor devoid of spirituality, I am both faithful and spiritual. I just don’t buy into any of the simplistic myths embraced by most humans. Nor do I accept the finite universe demanded by an omnipotent deity who is both alpha and omega. I am fairly certain there is nothing at the end of the ultimate tunnel. I do have hope that I am wrong, especially on days like this.
My friend Bob died on Thursday, the day before my birthday. I’ve only known him for about five years, since he joined my writing group (more aptly named a drinking group with a writing problem since we meet in a cantina). In that short time he became one of my favorite people. Unfailingly kind, cheerful, funny, and smart, it was impossible not to love this man, and everyone did.
That’s Bob on the left, as we luxuriate in pure Tucson fashion during the first monsoon rain of the year. A few months later he developed a case of laryngitis that didn’t go away. It turned out he had a huge tumor crushing his windpipe. Even after they removed it, he never quite got his voice back, but his spirit endured. In the cruelty that seems to prevail in the world of cancer and chemo, they thought they had gotten it all, then it spread, then he went into remission, then, then, then. And now he’s dead. He pretty much stopped coming to writing group after his diagnosis, other than a few special occasions, but every time, he brightened the place. I have missed him the whole time. This is why I hope there is something after death. Not so I will have a chance to see Bob, although that would be wonderful, but so he can continue to bring joy to those around him, to be the light at the end of many tunnels.