The other day, when I was crossing the street (yes, in the middle of the block – as do most New Yorkers), some moron (other than me), came racing around the corner on a motorized bicycle and nearly ran me over. We can debate who’s fault the accident would have been but everyone lived and that’s not what I wanted to blob about. The incident reminded me how fragile life can be, (and what an idiot I was not to look both ways before I crossed the street.)
When you are young, you want to be older and when you are old, you are exhausted. As a child you shoot people with a fake gun, (this is not going to be a blob about gun control), you see people in the movies die, get injured, or get terribly brutalized, and then ‘voila’ they are back in the next movie or show. Children think there is nothing unusual about this. Is it any wonder that a as a young person you believe you are invincible. Nothing bad can happen to you and there will never be life/death consequences for stupid decisions. But there are. Just ask the squirrel who recently became road kill. (We call that P S D, Poor Squirrel Decision -- but it’s also applicable to little, medium and big people.)
My adoring grandfather died when I was thirteen. Even as a teenager I wasn’t sure what that meant. We were all eating Friday night dinner and there was a phone call from some neighbor in Brooklyn who was screaming that Mr. Dubroff had a heart attack. All my aunts , most of my cousins and some of my uncles rushed out the door, leaving me, my dad, my uncle Phil, and my cousin Stevie sitting alone at the table, with not much to say—and they ran out so fast, not much to eat. Uncle Phil suggested we should get some Chinese food and go down to their house – right next door. My dad and Stevie sat and waited at the table and I sat under the piano humming Oyfn pripetshik, a tune my grandfather always sang to me – its about children and learning. If you want to tear your heart out you can listen to it on youTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=av4lTJCluos&feature=related
Anyway, he died while I was sitting under the piano. We were not permitted to participate until the funeral, where it only got most chaotic. The highlight of the chaos was when Aunt Sarah wanted to throw herself into the grave, and Aunt Sophie said to let her do it. We actually were not supposed to go to the cemetery, because that was supposed to be too stressful, but in the turmoil they forgot to make arrangements for us to be driven back to the Shiva House (house of mourning), so we just hung out with a bunch of hysterical grown-ups – who were not the least bit entertaining. The thing is, it never occurred to us that WE would die at some point. A.) We didn’t know what ‘die’ meant. B.) Only very, very old people do that.
As time passes, you lose friends and family, young and old, and at some point you start to realize your own mortality. But mostly, you think that nothing will ever happen to you. Jordan has lost several friends over the last few years, one was murdered, one died in a Drunk Driving accident, and one had an epileptic seizure in the middle of the night and never awoke. It is too horrible to deal with these as a natural part of the life-death cycle, but even if it was getting hit by a car, we never think it’s going to happen to us.
Until one day, when we’re crossing a street and a cab going much too fast, almost takes us out. At that point you think about all those times when your life was saved because you arrived at a disaster a few minutes before or after it occurred. It is not until something terrible happens to you that you say, Geez—my life is merely hanging by a thread. It’s time to live it at it’s fullest. We’re just sayin’… Iris
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
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It is a sobering reminder of what a tenuous hold we have on life and that all we ever have is the present.
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