Thursday, November 21, 2013

Death in the Family

There was a tragic death in my family today. An unexpected passing that has brought my own mortality into sharp relief against the expressionless march of time. As children we live with a sense of immortality, lent to us by the steadfast constancy of the people and places around us. We live in the only house we have every lived in. We are surrounded by the only people we have every lived with. We eat the only food we have every eaten. There is no sense of change, no sense for any real passage of time.

Then, as we say, life happens. When we say that, what we are really saying is that things change. We move to a new city. General Mills stops making French Toast Crunch. Our parents add more siblings. Time begins to inch along and as it creeps along our periphery like a gentle moss. But the changes of child are usually additive. More siblings, more friends, more spelling words, a bigger bike, a driver's license, a first kiss. Life is gathering like a storm surge and the momentum is intoxicating.

The rush of progress and learning fortify our determination. We might have no idea what we are doing but that doesn't matter because we are doing it. The foam and the spray blind us. As independent and powerful as we feel it's like an amusement park ride. The thrill is controlled, the danger is only simulated, and the harnesses are neatly constructed of the constants that have bolstered our sense of immortality since the day we were born.

Occasionally we lose things. A friend my die tragically young, the house we grew up in may now be the stage for another's start, a significant-other might find someone else more significant. The ebb is only temporary. As we flash into young adulthood we are still adding more things than we are losing. We get married, we get a job, we have kids, we buy a house. Yes. we have hit terminal velocity on our moonshot to eternity.

I'm not really sure when it happens but eventually we start losing more things. Many things. Eventually we start losing more things than we gain. That's when it's over. That's when the wave washes harmlessly across the sand. The cliche joke for any milestone birthday is that you are over the hill. But when is that really. Is it 40? 50? 60? No, it's when you stop building. I hope I never reach the top.

Well, I digress. Today I lost something and it's a tragedy it couldn't last forever. I don't think there will be a memorial service but I will observe a solemn moment of silence for my parent's SONY SPORTS MEGA BASS CFS-914 BOOMBOX with AM/FM radio and a cassette player. It bit the dust today and my world is collapsing around me.