Once, lying in bed in Portland, I waxed poetic on the unpredictability of life, more specifically, how we could die literally at ANY moment. Greg balked at the notion, stressing that we were safely tucked under a heap of warm blankets. I countered with the story of a woman and her infant child killed when a fighter jet malfunctioned and crashed, leaving nothing but a shock of smoldering embers where their house once was. One moment safe and sound the next simply gone.
My Grandfather Herbie, when he was only a young father himself, died in a horrific motorcycle wreck. He’d survived his plane crashing in the throes of World War II, the associated gun shot wounds, mile upon mile of the Bataan Death March, making due on virtually non-existent rations and cock roaches in prison camp, even tuberculosis! Then a doctor, blind in one eye and wholly unseeing, took his ninth life, mere days before my Dad’s seventh birthday. A tragedy.
Our dear friends’ son nearly died in a car crash last month. A bright, kind, super talented spark of teenage boyishness saved from a frighteningly smashed Toyota. He’s made great strides, but a long road to recovery remains ahead, a new normal of scars with stories to tell.
My Uncle has terminal brain cancer. The last I saw him was at his grand daughter’s eighth birthday party. All was cheery and copacetic, until it wasn’t. He’s seemingly lost all ability to form new memories. His life, in how brief a span, will be just that, memories?
I write of all this, not to be gloomy, but to flesh out the transient nature of life, the constant reminders of fragility and change and my utter befuddlement and wonder. What a lack of rhyme or reason! How impossibly out of our hands. The universe reminding us, to surrender, to ride the waves, to truly appreciate each end every moment, and cease grasping for control. We are mere passengers, intent on our destinations, yet completely subject to the capriciousness of the road.