My good friend John Brian Becker died yesterday morning. I say "good friend" but in fact he was a cherished friend: a teacher, mentor, brother, and kindred spirit. Many others could say the same thing because his heart and spirit were so expansive. Like Whitman, he was large, and he contained multitudes. I love him and I will miss him very much.
With the support of his lover and partner Jason and his loving family, he battled cancer for upwards of three years, an exhausting stretch of treatments, surgeries, and medicines. A cancerous downward spiral that had relatively good and starkly terrible moments. So now my heart breaks for all of us, losing such a wonderful soul. Jason has been an amazing man and partner, expending every ounce of strength within himself to continue to support JB in these last few years, and I respect him tremendously and am so grateful for his courage and levelheadedness, even with the certain knowledge that JB's death was around the corner at any moment.
Now JB can rest in peace after so much suffering. The question in my mind is "Why did such a wonderful soul have to die so young, and why did he have to experience all of this suffering?" Most likely this question will go unanswered forever, but as an evolved ape with a big brain I will ask it until I take my last breath. I want to rage against the dying of the light, but I know it is our common bond as living creatures. We will die, but why?
I met JB when I was young and in need of shelter. He provided that and much more. He showed me you could be a strong man and not have to be macho or cruel. He showed me that you could open your heart to others and not be afraid. We shared many philosophical ideas and good walks. There are a lot of lessons I learned from him over the years, but the main one is to never be afraid of life. We have this precious gift of life, and we have our bodies, minds, and souls. Make of it what you will, because tomorrow is today, yesterday is gone, and here we are together somehow. Be yourself always, because that is all you've got, and what you are is what matters, not what you think you are or what you want to be. There is no point in putting on a show (unless it's for fun!). And JB liked to have fun, which is a part of what makes the last few years so hard.
JB was an athletic person who loved his physical existence, and he appreciated the beauty of the human form in all of its diversity. He liked to walk and play soccer and do fun things whenever possible. He introduced me to buddhism and eastern philosophy, to opening yourself to the universe and enjoying good conversation and delicious food. When we were young he demonstrated a conscious hedonism that I feel is a sensible reaction to this short life we have to live. He was a wise man who had a light spirit, a thoughtful man who like to play and laugh. I take heart that a man like him existed, and I strive to achieve such a balance of soul.
We mourn. but he lives on within us, changed human beings because of him. All we can do is honor his spirit.
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