I got a call last night from the east coast, which made it a very late call for him. He was on his way home from the emergency room, she would stay the night for observation. During the call I switched off the reading lamp to accentuate the audio, after he hung up I sat in the gloom and wondered. The diagnosis was not life-threatening, there had been a couple of options in that ominous category but they had been ruled out. Probably just an added pill taken twice a day forever. Those were facts or at least medical opinions, not what I was pondering alone in the dark. Once again dis-ease, a lack of ease, eventually I drifted off.
This morning on my walk there was an accident. There was a car, there was a bike, it was an unfair fight. I was less than a block away and drew the bicyclist as my charge, a nearby neighbor got the hysterical driver, 911 had been dialed. He was fairly cool, the collision was mostly his fault, we agreed on the diagnosis - broken fibula, maybe the tibia too but the fibula for sure. His only real concern was not having to deal with the overly distraught driver, another neighbor ran interference for us and kept the victims separated. I asked about calling someone and then he got a overly defensive and much too nervous, I cut that off at the lymbic system by offering to make the call for him. "After the (now arriving) paramedics tell us which hospital and play it down, he can be a real drama queen." In twenty minutes the whole scene was over, only the police lingered with the driver but my supporting role had ended.
I was not a block further on my walk when some semblance of clarity descended, I had been resisting mortality as the easy answer to what has been vexing me, then I began to assemble this list - in reverse order:
-the car/bike accident;
-late night phone call from the emergency room;
-she loses her job, they move-in together it's the "right thing to do";
-drowning death of a 4 yr. old. - three degrees of separation;
-second parent slides slowly into dementia;
-benefit for a lung transplant;
-another retirement date set;
And that's the list from just the last seven days. I kept on rolling back in time with illness, aches, pains, many more retirements, several additional job losses. I resisted once again the easy answer - just time and mortality.
The reason some events are labeled cliches is because we all recognize them as basic, common human experience. It is indeed normal, but we do so resist being normal. Part of me wants to come away from this with a simple and truthful acknowledgment that I am indeed a very fortunate fellow. Another part of me doesn't.