what if there were no tomorrow
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more.
The friend of a friend who I mentioned in a previous post passed away last Thursday. It’s strange to be shaken by the loss of someone I never met. I’ve talked to my mother quite a bit about it, since her previous work as a Hospice social worker is directly connected to this type of experience.
This took us down an interesting path of conversation. My mom talked about the fact that, even with the pain and fear surrounding a fatal illness and a Hospice assisted passing, most people come to the realization that they would rather know when they are going to die. The idea of having time to prepare, say goodbye and settle affairs is more desirable than a sudden death. Even with the clear awareness of death’s presence looming on the horizon.
I get it. Then even with the tears, you get to say all those things in your heart. And maybe that is worth more than the bliss of subconscious mortality.
But it’s hard to think about death, to sit with it and try to wrap your head around the vastness of its reality.
And then I think about all I want to do, the seemingly endless list of things I want to do before I go (whatever “go” means… I’m still not sure what I believe). I have so many stories to tell, places to travel and people to know. I suppose I should stop writing this post and get to work. Because you just never know.
And then after my mom and I talk about coping and acceptance (and after I get a little scared of the going and the life to-do list), I realize that in this moment I am lucky. I know I’ve written before about feeling fortunate in having options and chances and dreams. About being lucky to have survived my premature birth. I mean that too but for some reason this is more than that, deeper than that.
I am lucky to know that I am lucky. Wow, that doesn’t quite read as lucid as it sounded in my head. Sorry, dork-alert. I guess it’s about being fortunate in the knowing, in having a mother who dives into these hard conversations, of gaining a strong enough sense of myself to know that I can drift into the slippery slope of “what happens when I die” and come back out of it safely. Because, we are all going to die. Life is that brief candle and most of us have no idea when it’s going to blow out. But it will. Wow, morbid post again today.
So all we can do is cry when life is rough and laugh when we are blessed with joy. And express all that is in our heart (okay, maybe not all…. or maybe not all of it all the time but hopefully you get my drift).
I sometimes wonder if anyone is reading this or if I’m simply tracking these weeks in a blogging vacuum. But in any case, I am grateful for you and I care about your life. I think that’s a big reason why I do what I do, I want to illuminate the human condition and share stories of people’s lives (good and bad, truth and fiction). At the end of the day, that is the legacy we leave.
We have some pretty great families stories about those who have passed on and they are always told with a loving mix of hilarity and melancholy. I like to imagine that this was the case around the bedside of the friend of a friend. That his family, his friends, his wife and his children found some small nugget of peace in the time together before he was gone.
If feel as though I need to go do something relatively monumental now. I can hear those that know me shouting “stay away from Everest Base Camp.” But seriously, not every moment is going to be extraordinary or even noteworthy but I can set the bar pretty high.
Now go cuddle a pet or give someone a hug. I promise to return less wrecked with perhaps more cinematic monkeys or stories of international adventures.
Until next week,