How I Cope With Unexpected Sad News
I received some news today that was both sad and unexpected. I learned that I'd lost a friend and colleague. I'd worked with Terry for many years at a Melbourne-based adult learning centre where we both taught short courses in photography on a casual basis.
For a time Terry also ran his own little photography school and specialized in photographing stage and burlesque performers. He was an interesting cat.
The last time I saw Terry was, I think, mid February. It was a Saturday and we ran into each other on the train, having both had classes in the city that day. Terry lived nearby and I'd occasionally pop over to his place for a bit of a chin wag and to shoot the breeze about photography education.
Terry told me that he was about to head off to Europe to spend some time with his son. He'd mentioned that he'd been ill but seemed upbeat about the trip and the fact that he was hoping to undertake a motorcycle and camping trip on the continent.
During his time away I travelled to Singapore and have been very busy since my return. After getting back to Melbourne I'd left a few phone messages for Terry, but hadn't heard back from him, which was unusual. I assumed he was still away and, possibly, had decided to extend his trip.
I ran into another colleague in the city a few weeks ago. We were both looking after students so our discussion was brief and, it seemed to me, somewhat coded. My colleague indicated that all was not right with Terry. I popped over to Terry's house a few days later, but it was shut up good and tight. I pondered the situation for a while longer until I decided to do some checking.
It appears Terry disappeared on a ferry from Amsterdam to England back in March. His luggage was found in his cabin after the ferry's arrival. A thorough maritime search was conducted to no avail and, while not conclusive, I think it's reasonable to assume that he was lost overboard.
I have no idea as to what may have occurred on that fateful day and I make no judgement. For it is not my place to judge. But I have been moved by the news and have sort to quieten by mind with the knowledge that Terry's now free from pain and from grief.
I don't know what awaits us when we die, but I believe that nothing is still something. As to what that something is, I'm content to wait and discover. And I'm in no rush to do so.
But I most certainly do not subscribe to the notion of nihilism: the philosophical viewpoint that life is without meaning or value. Regardless of the hardships we face throughout our human existance hope, love and beauty are the anchors that will hold us fast even on the most treacherous of seas.
However, after watching my father fade in hospital and with my mother now in her nineties, I'm better able to understand and appreciate the wish that some of the elderly and infirmed have to hasten the process of death. Again, I make no judgement.
I'II remember my friend Terry with fondness and I'II miss our chats. We had quite different approaches to photography, both as image makers and also as teachers of the craft. But the world needs variety and I'm a supporter of diversity in all things.
Rest In Peace Terry.