Loving Life Amidst Loss

Even in the middle of pain and misery, life is an exquisite gift

Franklin Veaux
4 min readDec 14, 2023

Right now, as I type this, I’m in Florida helping care for my mom. My dad and I have been doing 12-hour shifts with her, because she needs round-the-clock care. Between that and all the thousand things around the house that need tending to that my dad isn’t able to, I haven’t been sleeping much.

Last night at about 5am my mom started having trouble breathing, so I called 911. We just heard from the hospital 10 minutes ago. The cancer has spread to her lungs and brain. She really wanted to make it to her birthday in 6 days. The doctors don’t think she’ll make it.

So I’m not maybe the best person to talk about loving life right now.

And yet…

A few days ago, my wife and I spent a couple of hours at the Festival of Lights in Cape Coral. They had hot cocoa and a campfire with marshmallows.

When I stumbled out of bed this morning (well, technically this afternoon), the first thing that happened was my mom’s cat sat at my feet, meowed at me, and headbutted me to say hi.

Right at this very moment, I’m looking out the window onto my parents’ patio, where three squirrels are chasing each other across the screen roof, and it’s delightful.

I was born just barely early enough to see humanity walk on the moon — -some of my earliest childhood memories are sitting in front of a B&W TV watching the Apollo launches. Odds are good I will see humanity walk on Mars. Isn’t that amazing?

I am surrounded by love. I’m spending Christmas with my Talespinner. My life is filled with creativity and joy — I write books with some of my lovers, my wife and I created the Borg Queen xenomorph parasite cosplay from an idea she had three years ago, I’m teaching myself CNC machining and laser engraving.

I live in a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity in human history. We can fly through the air. Every day, we learn more about the universe.

This photo:

was taken by a probe that landed on a comet. We have the capacity to launch a probe that can travel for years and then arrive precisely on a small rock traveling at 84,000 miles per hour, which is about like a person in Boston shooting a rifle and hitting a golf ball in midair in Moscow. (Bizarre how many people think science is “just another belief system,” eh?)

And, I mean, I get it. The world isn’t all roses. Right now, far too many people in my country are too uneducated in history to recognize when they’re being lied to by yet another populist grifter selling them the same old tired lie that all their failures are the fault of somebody else.

We have a political party that takes gleeful, sadistic delight in mendacious cruelty, and a voting populace that sincerely believes it’s okay to vote for the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party because surely the leopards won’t eat their faces — only the faces of the Mexicans and the gays and the trans people, right?

There is pettiness, and cruelty, and meanspiritedness. There are people who make voting choices because they want to hurt other Americans just to own the libs.

But viewed on a large enough scale, the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice. We may be in the “one step back” part of the “two steps forward, one step back” cycle, yet this too shall pass.

I want to be here to see what happens next.