Monday, September 27, 2004

On the death of a relative

I had a set of bad news last week. A cousin of mine passed away, and under rather tragic circumstances. She overdosed on some pills - she was 15 years old - and it was over a boy.

I share this with you because as a writer, perhaps the most salient and germane way I can share my grief and my thoughts is to write.

I got the news as I was in the middle of a tutoring Saturday, about 5 minutes before I got to a student's house. I grasped the concept of what had happened intellectually and hated it. I walked into the house, and immediately my student sensed I was not my usual goofy self. I said that I had gotten some really bad news and as I began to articulate it I started to get choked up. I sat down, insisting that I would tutor. His mom sensed my discomfort and gave me a hug. I felt her motherly instinct envelop me. At that moment she was a mom for me - when I needed it. I went home and in a broken voice left a message for my other student that I was to see that I would not be seeing him today. As I hung up, I started crying - the painful type - the one in which the water seems to push up from under your eyelids and you gasp for breath as it comes out of you. Horrible. Sad. A waste.

I also had a friend tell me that she was going to have an abortion. I told her that I was not going to judge her and that I would remain her friend, but that I was very against her decision and would not support it or encourage it.

Both of these events drove home two key things to me: 1) life is short and 2) be extremely grateful for even being alive.

My weblog entries in September have been filled with musings about relationships and love. It seems a discordant note to end it on such heavy items, but give me a moment to explain.

These occurrences, while filling me with sadness, overwhelmingly push out feelings of gratitude and peace. I look over the vast reaches of the human story. For some reason (unknown to me) I was born in this day and age - a day and age filled with more power and potential for good or evil than any other age. An age which sees a leader of the world with more power than Genghis Khan, Napoleon, all the Caesars, and all the Kings of all time combined could ever hope for. I am a citizen of the country where that man rules. And I have a great life. I really do. I have a great job that compensates me well for the work I do. The work I do is enjoyable to me. I get to work on a company of my own that I have a lot of hopes and dreams pinned on. I get to write and express myself. I live close to my parents, who, even though I don't always get along with, I have an opportunity to see more. I have three awesome sisters and countless friends. My financial house is really finally in order, I've finished my commitment to the Marines, and I live in non-hurricane weather. My car has 175000 miles on it (all put on by me) and has not ever broken down for any reason. I’ve stepped foot on 3 continents and flown over 100,000 miles. I’ve traveled more than Magellan and Columbus combined. I’ve experienced love and loneliness. I have 4 roommates who are every bit the "work hard, play hard" types. I could go on, but I hope I have made my point – which is to be grateful for the things we have. Ron Livingston tells Jon Favreau in Swingers - "You know that's your problem Mike, you never think about the things you have, just about the things you don't." So on the occasion of the musings of the loss of life, I choose to be grateful for mine.

Thought for today:

Sand in the hourglass

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