San Diego— This has been a good month and perhaps year for Death. In addition to reaping the souls of those whose time had legitimately come, this has been a banner time for collecting those whose departure from this mortal coil was premature.
The news has been in a state of near rapture over so many untimely deaths to report and wax philosophical under a veil of crocodile tears. Like traffic slow ups as people drive by accidents hoping for their morbid glimpse of blood and gore so they can then go their way clucking about how awful it was, the new seems to gleefully look forward to the next report of some horrid miscarriage of life.
From Afghanistan to France, Florida to Chicago to L.A., we’ve recently seen a spate of untimely passings; people whose lives, in terms of sheer years, were nowhere ready to die but instead had a potential of productive exciting lives yet ahead of them. But Death came for them anyway… it did not care about those hopes or dreams or potentials. The only thing “fair” about Death is that sooner or later it will come calling for us all.
Being a card-carrying old fart I’m now at that spot I used to observe in older relatives where instead of a Facebook source, the obit column had more of your friends’ pictures. To me, because of the connections, when a friend dies it is still untimely and too soon. Too many rivers left to run, too many jokes left to laugh at, too many stories left untold, too many loves left unloved, too many options now closed forever all add up to a long list of things unfair, or so it seems.
But much as we may wish it, even with advances in medical procedures, we’ve not found a way to stop crazed behavior, keep idiot savages from driving airplanes into buildings, remove unfounded but very real paranoia and fear from our lives. Death is far from being out of options when it comes to creative ways to remove friends, family, and others from life when they had so much to live for.
And the bottom line is that you truly do not have even the slightest guarantee that when you say goodbye on any given day to a friend, parent, child, student, teacher, boss, employee, and watch them walk away that you will ever see them again alive. Perhaps if we said our goodbyes with the sincerity and passion we would do if we KNEW that person was leaving to their likely death, we could instill more love and more security and start to chip away at some of those inexplicable and psychotic-seeming behaviors that the newspapers love to write about.
Perhaps if we greeted them with the same open gladness and joy we would have if we KNEW they had just narrowly escaped death, we could really start closing that circle of bizarre behaviors leading to inexplicable killings from otherwise “normal” folks.
The truth is, whether we know it or not, we all probably narrowly escape death many times every day. A momentary distraction, a second’s earlier or later start, another’s hesitation or anxiety, all making that moment of death pass by slightly in front or slightly behind us go unnoticed and the life we walked away with completely unappreciated. When we knowlingly “dodge the bullet” we show a gratitude for life we rarely show even though we unknowlingly dodge one with some frequency.
So hug your friends and families, let them know you love them even if at the moment you are not so sure about it. You never know what that simple passionately positive greetings or goodbye might change for the better.
Life is a gift we have for a very limited time. Since no one has returned to tell us differently, Death takes us on a very, very, very long ride forever. Each moment we breathe is given to us to make a difference; not in the broader world perhaps, but at least in our own little worlds. Is that difference you will make, whether you intend it or not, one you wish to be remembered by? If that person you are greeting or bidding adieu were to die before you saw them again, what memory of you would you like for them to have as they fade away?