Living with a chronic illness teaches you how precious life is, how bittersweet it can be. The value of a day without pain, the blissful moments when you forget that you have that illness.
It also teaches you how murky the depths of depression can be, a seemingly endless cavern of darkness and despair, devoid of any hope or light. When you hit that point, the road out seems long, unattainable, and ultimately impossible. Most of us overcome the impossible, and sooner or later crawl our way out. There are some for whom, whatever reason, don't.
That was the case this weekend for my friend Dave. He was the classic All-American Boy Next Door. Good looking, a shy grin, and one of the kindest souls you'd have ever met. Dave and I knew each other through the United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA).
Dave's gone, and his many friends scattered across the country are left stunned. It's easy to ask why and walk around saying how hard it is to believe that something like this could happen to an incredible guy like Dave.
But for those of us who suffered like he did, living with a chronic illness, bodies forever altered like his was, we remain silent.
Dave's not the first of my friends from the UOAA community to die, and I imagine, that unfortunately he will not be the last. Whatever his reasons were, the precise cause of his inextinguishable anguish, those of us who walked with him, we're too familiar with it all.
Just as with all things in life, I will not let Dave's life or death go unnoticed. He will be sorely missed by many, many people. I will remember his light, his smile, and his kindness. There are so many things that we can and must take from every single experience, good, bad, and the tragic, otherwise, they are all in vain and we're left asking ourselves 'what's the point?'
Dave was worth more than that, and so are we.