It's been alluded to several times in the last couple months about some RL concerns limiting my play time in EVE Online. It would be closer to the truth to say it's taken a lot of the joy out of it, but not entirely. Since you read this blog, I owe you some sort of explanation. Here it is.
In early September a coworker of mine whom I respect very much was diagnosed with cancer. This was awful news, but he was given good odds of a full recovery. It wasn't that bad - at first. And I was not personally affected in too adverse a fashion by the news though I was sad for him. That changed. More on this in a moment.
On September 21st, my significant other's Aunt Sue, for whom we'd been providing in home care, passed away. This was not unexpected, but the last week was somewhat harrowing. People die hard. It doesn't matter how good hospice is, and they were fantastic, the body always fights and struggles and holds on as long as it can. It was no different with Sue. To say it was heart rending is to do an injustice to the human capacity for compassion. The worst part was when she no longer recognized those who were trying to comfort her, and withdrew into herself for the final 24 hours. I've heard it said we all die alone. I have never doubted that statement philosophically, and now I know it's true.
And things got worse after she died. Friday of that same week my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Within two weeks we had a name for it, Primary Peritoneal Cancer. It's very much like ovarian cancer. It is a stealth cancer. Fortunately it responds very well to a specific treatment entailing bulk removal of cancerous tissue and 107 degree Fahrenheit chemotherapy drugs pumped directly into the abdominal cavity over the course of several months. She had her fourth treatment yesterday. It is going well, but there have been problems mostly revolving around dehydration and an inability to eat anything wholly solid. The cancer had actually caused her stomach to adhere to the large intestine, and the largest tumor had smashed the stomach into the lower abdominal cavity. It was fascinating and alarming at the same time. My mother is a nurse (retired after over 30 years) and so are both my sisters. We've had some fascinating discussions about the way this cancer has manifest itself. I suppose that keeps us from thinking about other things too much. To know something is to not be owned by something. And we all refuse to be owned by this cancer.
And this is where my coworker comes back into the picture. His cancer unfortunately metastasized before they caught it. His good prognosis was obliterated when they discovered three more tumors in two other types of tissue shortly after my mother's diagnosis. I don't know if he'll make it now, and to say this makes me worry for my mother is a gross understatement. I struggle not to be owned by the worry if I must be completely honest with myself, and of course I must.
But at her encouragement, I went to EVE Vegas nonetheless and enjoyed myself. We've tried to maintain as normal a life as possible, because it is not only good for us but it is good for her to know we are doing this. Living with cancer is not easy for either the afflicted or their family. It's a day by day wait to see which wins, the treatment or the cancer. My mother's prognosis is still very good, but we really won't know until her first round of treatments are done in a month.
What I do know is this holiday season will have far more meaning to my family than any since my father passed away - from cancer - 16 years ago. At least I am not as angry now as I was back then. No age is a good age to lose a parent, and sure could have used his guidance for at least another decade. But I am in a better place personally now than I was 16 years ago and I've managed to keep the anger in check. That's a goodness.
And please, no condolences. I mean it. This is simply how life is and I am not writing this for sympathy. There is something I want to say to all of you. When it comes to those you care about, don't take anything for granted. Tell them how you feel. And for their sake, don't let the negative aspects of existence turn you sour and stop you from enjoying life. Life is too short to not do what makes you happiest. (And if you say what makes you happiest is being an Internet troll, I say you are fooling yourself and need a shrink.)
And all this includes the games we play. We all complain about CCP doing this to ruin our fun, or that foul mouth troll doing that to ruin our fun, or any of a dozen other excuses to not have fun. It really is a load of troll shit. If you are not having fun in EVE Online, it's actually your fault if blame must be placed. If you cannot find anything you enjoy doing, you need to find a pastime you do enjoy. No one has to follow a specific play style to win in EVE Online or life. You win when you have fun. When that is not possible, it's time to move on, even if that means leaving EVE Online or walking away from negative people.
And in case you wonder, no, I am not leaving EVE Online. However, I will walk away from negative people and am not playing it every single night any more. I am not letting others tell me what I have to do or what I can't do. If I don't like something and it matters to me, I'll tell the appropriate people. If they don't care, I don't care. There are a lot of fun things I can do and the vast majority of them don't include them. And in the grand scheme of things, EVE Online really isn't that important. It's certainly not important enough to get upset about. Sooner or later we all find out what is, and only then do we really understand. So what I want to tell you is go have fun. Take control of your game and your life and do what makes you happiest, even if that is sitting in a station making buy and sell orders while spinning a ship you'll never fly. If that's fun for you then you've won. Just do one other thing. From time to time, get up and go tell someone you respect/love/admire how you feel about them. I know they'll appreciate it, and so will you.