I’ve always been fascinated with the fact that death is the only certainty in life. And while I’ve never had to deal with the death of people close to me, it’s coming. Obviously.
When I was a kid we lived in a Navy town during the Vietnam War, so death was all around us. But because it never touched us directly, I couldn’t establish a point of reference. So in my mind I used to pretend that people in my family would die – as a way to develop empathy with kids I knew who lost parents and siblings. When I told my mom about this, she researched doctors. So I stopped telling her about the things I did in my mind. Because if she thought that was special…
Fast forward 35 years – I’m not very close with my family. It’s not a spite/regret thing, but just the way things turned out. It happens. As a result, our family (the one I have with my wife) has developed a new kinship in a place far away from people who share our blood and name. And while I may be insulated by the eventual death of people from my past, it doesn’t mean we’re avoiding death. Indeed, we’ve lost a few people we loved in Charlotte. And we’re about to lose another.
Not long ago, the mother of children who go to our school was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. She’s in an induced coma tonight and isn’t going to make it. I personally don’t know her, but we’re intimately related through our children, our friends, our school and our community. Tonight at dinner we counted our blessings and prayed for our friends. But until I experience the pang of life’s only inevitable directly, it somehow doesn’t feel real.