A couple of things in the past week have made me acutely aware of mortality. First, it was my mother’s birthday. Mom is healthy and vibrant. She has taken chances and really lived since she and my Dad split up. But she has always told me, “I won’t be here forever.” I know that, eventually, I will have to say good-bye to her. And her birthday just marks the passing of another year I am lucky to have her around.
Driving home after leaving the birthday party, kids dozing in the backseat, I imagined that we got into an accident — that I have to tell my very upset kids goodbye, that I love them, that they are the best things that ever happened to me. I bet this happens to other parents all the time. You imagine that something awful happens and you have to say goodbye to the people you love, maybe even VERY quickly. I know Chris knows how much I love him. Do our kids? I mean do they, REALLY?
The next day, Cameron broke his toe at Karate, in the most freakish way, and needed surgery. Thirty six hours later, I watched them poke him and put him under. WOW! I hate that! Then when he woke up, he was so miserable, dry-heaving his head off, that it hurt me. The nurses said, “don’t cry,” but what else can you do? Chris and I mopped him up, and put cold compresses on his face, but I cried. If anything happened to him…. I gave birth to this very small and helpless creature, I nursed him, held him and cheered him on through crawling, standing, walking, and he becomes this young man, so precious a life, so special and perfect, even in his imperfections. It’s beautiful and wonderful and you fear it will just slip through your hands.
Wow. We are so lucky, so impressive. The absolute wonder of life gives us so much. To notice it, to really feel it, is excruciating. Your senses ping all at once! I don’t think it’s possible to notice all the time, or else you would be overwhelmed. I don’t know what will happen to us at the end. I know lots of people have faith that they do. Lots of people KNOW, but I don’t. I think it’s cool to imagine it. Writer and neuroscientist David Eagleman has imagined all kinds of ‘afterlives’ in his book “Sum“. One of my favorites is ‘Mirrors’:
“To understand the meaning of this afterlife, you must remember that everyone is multifaceted. And since you always lived inside your own head, you were much better at seeing the truth about others than you ever were at seeing yourself. So you navigated your life with the help of others who held up mirrors for you. People praised your good qualities and criticized your bad habits, and these perspectives – often surprising to you – helped you to guide your life. So poorly did you know yourself that you were always surprised at how you looked in photographs or how you sounded on voice mail.”
I don’t think I am so surprised anymore, but I have been. This one is good, too:
Makes you think about what is really important, doesn’t it? I am going to try really hard to have more than fourteen minutes of pure joy.