Once again, a Merry Christmas to one and all—be safe, be healthy, be happy. The second of those three—be healthy—is the source of quite a bit of personal reflection these days.
A couple weeks ago, my brother, Bob Ashley, succumbed to cancer. Technically, Bob was my half brother on my father’s side—a father I barely knew. I’ll not go into the dysfunctional details; I’ll just say that I got to know Bob later in life—me in my early 40s, he in his mid-50s. We hit it off nicely, being of like mind in everything from humor (humor was a biggie) to family to politics to just plain living life. I liked Bob instantly. We never thought of each other as “half” brothers, just brothers who discovered each other later than we would have liked.
Despite the fact that Bob and I didn’t see a lot of each other in recent years, living some 1,000 miles apart, keeping in touch primarily through email and social media sites, my appreciation of him did not diminish. Indeed, before he got sick, we were trying to sort out plans for a long overdue visit. Thus, his passing hit home with a thump. Cancer has been such a scourge on my family over the years, as it has been for so many.
I’ve been battling my own health issue these past few years, a condition call Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS). Again, I’ll spare you the details, except to say that it threw my life into a state of turmoil back in 2006. Since then, I’ve been battling my way back, sorting out a new, productive path to a brighter future, building hope and optimism back into my life. It’s been a tough slog, but the light at the end of the tunnel grows nearer, larger—I can almost reach out and touch it.
And so, through it all, and as I reflect on life during this holiday season, I can’t help but be reminded that nothing—absolutely nothing—is more important than your health, and the health and wellbeing of family and friends.
I hope you and yours are enjoying the blessings not just of the season, but of life without excessive worry or loss.
This one’s for you, Bob. Go gently into that good night, brother, and rest easy.