I just got home from spending an evening with some neighborhood friends who were in town for the weekend. We were catching each other up on our recent woes. In years’ past, our misery this evening would be centered around the rival St. Louis Cardinals being 3 (now 2) outs from winning another World Series.

This year was a little different.

After I went about explaining the woes of having my Summer of 210,000 Words fall apart while tending to the OldOld Man’s heart valve transplant surgery, my friends filled me in on their woes. [Update: The Cardinals just won the 2011 World Series. Add that to our collective list.]

It started with a debilitating car crash.

One of them noted that a close family member just had a severe car crash, will be spending the next year learning how to walk & my friends will be spending every other weekend one state over assisting in chores and everything else they can do to expedite the member’s recovery.

Then it went to AA.

The other friend just had a close family member check into AA. Forty days sober as of tonight. Long time coming with hopes the recovery lasts longer.

Add another friend’s family member’s illness.

And I feel like sh* because I don’t remember what the illness was because I was expecting the tragedies to come in 3s. I know this is the third one mentioned but I knew the 4th one was coming…

It ended in brain cancer.

A friend of theirs from their home is fighting brain cancer. It’s the rare, slow growing kind. But tell that to someone who adds 15 years to their life and realizes they aren’t expected to live to 50.

And if them blues don’t sober you up.

Then you ain’t got no soul and you should stop reading this now. Seriously. Go away.

But the cancer victim’s outlook is incredible.

He stays positive. He keeps fighting. He’s going to fight destiny tooth-&-nail. He even jokes on Twitter with friends:

“I’m Dumb Because I Have a Brain Tumor. What’s Your Excuse?”

And if that don’t get you off your ass & following your dreams.

Then just make sure you’re not a drain on society. Keep clean. Keep quiet. Keep diligent to your responsibilities. Do your part.

Stay on your side of Hell.

As I told a friend tonight.

Who wrote on my Facebook wall that she thought she was dying from a broke heart:

Soldier on.

You soldier on for those who can’t. You solider on for those who see the end of their Fates’ string. You solider on out of respect for those who’ve been told by medicine that they’re soon to fall. And you solider on in spite of those who fumble in your way.

Most importantly, you soldier on for yourself.

My biggest fear is that…

I’ll get to the end of my Fates’ string and regret those years when I could have done so much more. So much more.

So i’ll leave signposts on the way.

…for those too important to give up on. But waiting on them only shortens the string. And I’ve let the string get short enough.

I don’t have an excuse to be so dumb as to let fear and anxiety shortened my potential.

Soldier On.

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