When you’re young, it’s hard for you to imagine that life actually has a beginning and end. You feel as if you’ve always been alive and the idea that someday you won’t be is inconceivable. But over time, the evidence starts to pile up. Perhaps a beloved pet passes on, maybe a grandparent. If you’re really young, it might not register but if you’re older there might be some understanding. And so the real story of life begins for you.
Yet, you still don’t really get it. Even into your twenties, you “know” that life will end but you somehow can’t really get your hands around it. You act as if it won’t. To be honest, for most of us the end is so far away this feeling is unavoidable. But over the years, it slowly starts to dawn on you that you won’t live forever.
My mom died when I was 14, but even then it didn’t register with me. It still felt like something that happened to others. It seems remarkably dumb, but that’s how I felt for almost 30 years after.
That’s when I had a serious motorcycle accident that frankly should have killed me, but didn’t. All of a sudden, the realization that my life had a definite expiration date was inescapable. To say it left me changed is an understatement. I suffered from panic attacks for a few years afterwards before eventually learning how to deal with them.
But I got over it. And then my dad became ill. He was remarkably healthy for a long time but eventually time, if nothing else, caught up with him. It’s different than my mom. My mom went from initial diagnosis to death in a year or so. Dad, on the other hand, has been slowly declining over the past few years with no real end in sight. Yes, the end is coming, but no one will predict when it happens. He’s at a point where he requires care all day long and there’s no way he can get that at home. You know what that means. With every week, or so it seems, there’s a new issue doctors have to try to deal with while dealing with all the existing issues.
As I write this, I’m sitting in a hotel not far from the hospital and rehab facility he’s been in for months. I’ve been here before, and I’ll be here again in the future. Until the end.
I don’t know when that will be. I hope it’s not too soon, but that’s not something I have any control over. Funny how life is like that.