Fighting For Life vs. Self-Destructive
A dear friend passed away this weekend, a special angel of a person who though she fought a battle against cancer for 14 years, was always worrying, caring, and giving to others. My friend, Holly Harwood Skolkin, a talented photographer and mother to two beautiful young adults, Emory and Dayna, had a cancer recurrence recently that she fought as per usual like a warrior, yet this final time the cancer beat her.
I can’t help making a comparison because this weekend Whitney Houston also died, albeit with very different circumstances. Pills and alcohol are already suspected, and though I am not judging her and other addicts, it is not hard to figure that playing with fire can get you burnt. The long road of addiction is almost like a death wish due to the risks involved. I felt the same way when Amy Winehouse and Michael Jackson passed away. Talented, yet tragic figures who seemed to taunt and tease an early death with their addictions and lifestyles. The same goes for Whitney. I do admire the talents of all of the performers we end up revering, but I don’t elevate them to the status that most do. I can’t grieve for their untimely deaths but feel sorry that a talent went to waste. So many gone too soon.
NOTE: I am not judging, and I do realize addiction is also a disease, but there is TREATMENT for this disease.
For Holly, she is gone much too soon, as some other dear friends of mine who lost their battles to disease and cancer. Yet I openly grieve for them. They fought for life, enduring harsh treatments, and a diminished quality of life that goes with those treatments. They make the courageous choice to fight their disease.
Despite 14 years of treatment and some bouts of remission of symptoms, Holly never stopped living and loving life. She fought like a tiger for her life – to live and see her children grow, to share in all of their milestones. She was tenacious, brave, and determined in her war against her disease. No matter how she was battled down during certain periods, she would overcome. Through this last chapter, though she was weakened beyond all measure, she was determined to conquer once again. She knew she had so much to live for.
In between her incapacitations, Holly was a giver. She helped other patients who were sick, through Aishel House, (one of her favorite charities) through support groups, and through being a friend to anyone who experienced cancer or disease. As her quality of life improved following treatments, she ramped up her volunteerism to care for others. She was vibrant, vivacious, and always smiling – in other words – a true champion of spirit.
As I grieve and as her family and our community grieves for the loss of a genuinely good human being who fought so valiantly to live her life, I can’t help making the comparison to those who are self-destructive and recklessly play Russian Roulette with their life.
I have said so many times before – we should take care in what and who we admire and put on a pedestal. Singing or acting talent is to be appreciated, but should we revere those who are self-destructive and value their lives so much when they obviously do not?
Instead we should pour all of that admiration energy into those among us who we should recognize and appreciate – the true heroes.