A year ago today, at this same desk, I wrote about you and now I'm writing to you. There's a nice symmetry to this even though there's nothing nice about the circumstances.
A year ago today, we said goodbye and you peacefully concluded what was, by any measure, an extraordinary life. You were afraid of the sadness you'd leave behind and indeed my dear friend, there is great sadness in your powerful wake but the fond memories are starting to shine through grief's tarnish.
I've decided not to focus on the melancholy of this day because you'd likely think that a waste of time and energy. Knowing you, I'd bet you'd want me to tell you what I've learned since March 23, 2015. That is a fine question, one that would come naturally from a teacher like you.
Remember that bleak Friday, when it became clear your time here was short, very short and honored friends and loved ones were called to your side to say goodbye?
As you struggled to talk, you said "There's a lot to learn in what we did." and in fact Bruce, you were right. Are right. I can't tell you how many people have written to me or come up to chat after a speech about our radio/book/podcast project to say how much they admired your strength and courage and how much they've learned about how to live, really live, and live with whatever challenges they face just as you did.
We said things that people are afraid to say and we did it in a sensitive and gentle way. I've learned how rare that kind of honesty, that kind of authenticity is. Clearly, there is a hunger for candid discussion around our human frailties and certainly about our deaths.
That kind of honesty is born of the willingness to be vulnerable and that is something I've worked on this past year. It's very difficult. My vulnerability has emerged in surprising ways in public, which has led to some embarrassment. I've realized that exposing that tenderness, the painful wounds, allows others to do too. There's healing in that. As you said "While we can't be cured, we can be healed." and that is true.
I've learned that there are possibilities behind every question, hurdle and problem. The task is to fearlessly explore those possibilities. There have been possibilities that have bloomed since your death, opportunities I never would have thought feasible have presented themselves. I'm convinced, born of your experience, that if a person is breathing, they still have possibilities until the end.
I've done some thinking about where you might be now Bruce. How you are.
I like the quote from Arthur Schopenhauer: "After your death, you will be what you were before your birth."
I see you as being the perfection you were before you were born. Truly now, you are a free spirit yet connected to all that is.
I don't know much, but I know for certain your spirit resides in the hearts of all who knew and loved you.
Peace Bruce. We'll talk again soon.
The Blog Authors
Bruce started writing about living with ALS shortly after being diagnosed in 2010. The blog is called the "Dis Ease Diary."
Cathy is a journalist so she's used to writing. Blogging is different because it feels so personal and that can be scary. Bear with her. She'll figure it out!
You may hear from Ev from time to time. Ev is Bruce's beloved wife. She's a music teacher at a French immersion school.