Thoughts of the Unfinished

Last week I lost a good friend to cancer.

You can read my tribute to him at cmnorthauthor.com, but I really wanted to take a moment to reflect on what his death means in terms of the loss of creative endeavors. You see, for years we would talk about making and creating, during lunchtime walks and in snarky texts. We would discuss what we wanted to achieve, the difference we wanted to make, and how depression would often stand in the way of our goals.

But in the end, only one of us got there. For the last two years, his focus narrowed to simple survival. And while I wrote and published books, he slowly withered.

I know that I write to communicate; I write to help, and to change lives. With my fantasy work I might only do that in the minutest of ways – entertaining people, keeping their thoughts off the stresses of their lives – but it gives me a sense of purpose.

It also helps me come to terms with my own mortality, because of course one day I’m going to die, too. And I want to know that I’ve left something behind – something tangible, something to remember me by.

When I think of his death, I’m saddened, of course; I’m saddened for the loss of his presence, his influence on me, and I’m saddened for the grief of all those who loved him. But I’m also saddened at the thought of all the things he’ll never get to do. He’ll never play a new video game; he’ll never write his book. He’ll never know the ending of The Redemption of Erâth – something I would speak with him about frequently. All the new things that might have brought him joy will never be his to experience.

But they are still mine; they are all of ours left behind. There are so many new things yet to come, and old things never experienced, and it would be a waste of life not to seek those things out. I can’t pretend that his death changes my own creative endeavors; I had always planned on finishing my series, and writing more beyond. But maybe it gives a new flavor to my motivation: the knowledge that there are people in the world who may not have forever left to them makes me want to push forward all the more.

So if there is something that can grow from his death, let it be the experiences that remain in the world for all of us. Don’t wait until tomorrow to watch that movie, or write that book. Do something today, and make it matter: if only to yourself.

Because in the end, all we have are the experiences that form our lives. The day will come when you run out of time, when the only experience left is the final one that we’re all fated to go through. But until that day, live. Live happy, or live sad, but don’t delay it another moment.

My friend – I know how your story ended, and I’m sorry you’ll never know how mine does. But it will, and when it does, it will be everything we ever dreamed.

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