life expectancy

Two things have come up this week that make me incredibly aware of life’s fragility. And in turn I have tried to actively embrace all that I have (literally and figuratively). The kitty has probably had enough cuddling to last her the next year.

The first is that someone close to someone I know (I’m being vague to protect people) is in the last week of so of life. And this person isn’t that old at all, and he/she thought it was simply a cold but it was so much more… and so much worse. Now everything around him/her has stopped and everyone is just waiting. Waiting for the inevitable to come. Anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks and that’s it. Over. I can’t really handle that. I spontaneously burst into tears when I think about it.

Just did again right now as I type. Because I think of all the people who take their daily journey for granted. Like the guy on my subway this morning who went completely insane because the train was delayed. And yes, were were seriously delayed (as in it took me over an hour to take a 15 minutes subway right) but still. It’s a subway making you late to work. I understand that your day might be completely screwed but you will have another. Many more hopefully. And we were above ground for most of the delayed part with people even offering their cell phones to neighbors if they needed to call in.

But this person, he/she doesn’t have time. Doesn’t have days. And there are insurmmountable waves of loss and sadness around that. A spouse, children, family and friends who all sit there numb at the thought. I’ve been having that line from a poem “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may” going through my head. You need to do all you can because you just never know.

The other thing is that I heard an interview with a blogger and businessman (and a bunch of other things) named Jon Morrow. He has Spinal Muscular Atrophy and should have died when he was two. A couple decades and 20 near-death experiences later, and he is as fierce and passionate as any writer or business person I have ever heard speak. I listened to an interview with him as part of the Punk Rock Entrepreneurial offering Question the Rules and it blew my mind. He tells this story about how his parents didn’t give up on him, how they simply did not accept the seemingly enevitable outcome.

So left with the massive contrast in these examples, I am speechless. There is no rhyme or reason in life and that scares me. Both because it means anything is possible and because it means nothing is possible. One person lives decades beyond what the doctors predict and one waits in a hospital hospice unconscious. And you can’t plan or prepare or even think too hard about any of it, because you just never know which end of the spectrum is yours.

And as someone who has done a bit of death defying…. I feel both blessed and guilty. I want this friend of a friend to live because he/she has a family and this all came down in a matter of months. Feeling under the weather turned into metastasized cancer. How does that happen? And what kind of jerk am I if I complain about the MTA or whine about doing laundry in the rain.

How do we remedy this feeling? How do we keep making plans and enjoying each moment, because sometimes that duality is really damn hard. I guess we do our best. Wait, no. We do more than that. We do more than our best, we do all we can each and every day. At least that’s what I’ll try to do. More than I think I can and more than is expected of me. I hope you’ll hold me to that, and maybe join me in the quest.

I feel like this is a pretty mournful post so sorry for that. I appreciate you and I wish you health and happiness. I truly do.


“Life as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

~Mahatma Gandhi


  1. Julie Millett
    August 26, 2010

    A good reminder to keep it all in perspective and to NOT take it for granted. Thank you.

    • admin
      August 30, 2010

      Lovely to “see” you here and glad that we’ve shared illuminations.


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