05/18/2006 06:22 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Editing a Life

I'm trying to come to terms with the death of a friend - Clive - yet another friend who has succumbed to cancer. He was young - 52 - and I'd known him for almost twenty years. It hit me in an especially poignant way this morning. I'm an organized person, and as a writer, I sometimes need to do some organizing as a way to flesh out a piece I'm working on, so I clean desk drawers, edit my photo files, or like this morning, work on my address book. I pulled up my friend's address file in the Outlook program, and looked at the entry for Clive and Sherry. I stared at his name for a long time, and thought about his wife and two sons. Then gently, almost reverently, I slid my curser to the box and slowly back-spaced his name out of the file. It gives me shivers even to write this - but the act of doing it brought tears to my eyes. I could imagine how devastating it would be for Sherry if I had neglected to do this, and had somehow accidentally sent a group email or bulk invitation to the both of them now that Clive is gone. I added a note - a postscript to the address file, reminding me of the exact date Clive died - part of my organizational meshugas.

And then I began to think about my dear girlfriend Stephanie, who died three years ago after fighting cancer for 18 months. I thought about my friend Megan, who just yesterday was attending the funeral of her brother - who had also fought, and lost his battle with cancer. I began to ponder the donation I recently made to a friend's Avon walk for Breast Cancer, and the family members she's walking for -- and my mental cohort just kept getting larger, extending to the many other friends, and friends of friends who are either fighting for their lives, or have lost them because of cancer - lost them way too soon. My mind is churning with memories of these people, and their husbands, wives, children, parents and friends - all of us who are left behind to edit our address lists and carry on.

We may purge names of people from our data files, but never from our memories, nor would we want to. And though it is too late for those who have died -- in their memory, and for those of us who remain, I shall hope and pray for a cure - and augment those prayers by helping to fund medical research to achieve it.

In my last web log as journalist-without-portfolio, I wrote about the promising strides being made in the pursuit of cures for serious illnesses, and the need for continued research funding. How sadly apropos this all feels today. But I'm grateful for researchers like Bill Fenical, PhD of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who have dedicated their lives to this pursuit. Dr. Fenical is searching the world's oceans for a cancer cure. And I say, "more power to him." In fact, I wish all scientific researchers GODspeed. I wish it for Clive's Sherry, for Stephanie's Steve, for Tina and Lauryn and Nick; for Megan and all of us who are left behind -- all of us who have had to edit our lives to adapt to the loss of someone beloved.