|Daniel, May, 1996-November 28, 2008|
This week, two ladies who worked with my daughter died on the same day. Later in the week, the lady who took over work for one of our family members while he vacationed, passed in a car accident. The end of this existence will come for each and every one of us, and yet, we work, play, and sometimes plan as if it will not.
We are just five days away from the day when, eight years ago, my son Daniel, who was only 12, collapsed and died here at home. He had a clean autopsy, and so the prevailing pathologist's theory is that he experienced a sudden heart rhythm disturbance, as increasing numbers of children who play sports are doing, and that despite immediate CPR, his rhythm disturbance was non-recoverable. He's had a physical with a professor of pediatrics just a week or so before his death, and now ironically, both my son and that physician are dead.This time of year used to be my favorite, and yet, even eight years past Daniel's passing, I am fragile around Thanksgiving. It seems to me that almost everyone in our family eventually passes within October or November.
I am however, not quite as destroyed as you might expect because I know a few things which ease the journey. Our trip to Earth is a temporary one for us all. Each one of us is issued a mortal flesh suit and then raised with the idea that our stay is somewhat open ended. After all, when we're in school we may be told that by the time we are middle aged, there will be a cure for all the cancers, and failing organs will be laboratory grown and transplanted. You'll live to 120 the school physician told me at 16 when I had a tennis physical. Of course, none of this is true. Our bodies are on loan, a bit like a tuxedo rental from the Men's Warehouse. We work and play and over time, we age. The aging that is evident on the exterior indicates that similar or even more severe aging is occurring internally. Entropy is real. We age in steps and eventually must evacuate our flesh suits even though we wish, at that point, simply to shelter in place. It is universal. It will happen to us all.
I have actually accepted my own mortality pretty well over the years. The only reason I fear it now is that I have more skin in the game than I used to. I still have four children remaining on Earth, and a grandchild. I dislike the idea of feeling as if I will ultimately be abandoning them all in a world that is not quite as friendly as most mothers wish it were.
Still, we come to Earth. We live, we love, we work, and this too is very important. Eventually, we leave the rental suit and go home to a more permanent arrangement.
Make sure that tomorrow when you see family and friends that you drink the water and realize how cool and quenching it can be. Be kind, even to those who don't really deserve it, because this could be their last Thanksgiving. Drink the sparkling cider and don't be tempted to drink anything that muddies your memory of this rare day. Realize that the little kids who will spill gravy on the oriental rug are going to remember tomorrow always. See that they remember you for forgiveness. Remember always to place people above even valuable things. Make sure that although you have a strong work ethic, that you are also known for the important ability to set work aside, even just for a day. Eat and enjoy, but not so much that you make the rental suit sick, because you will have to inhabit it the day after, as well.
Enjoy this day as if it is your last, not because it will be, but because someday there will be a day that is.