This I Believe
Life is short. I didn’t always feel this way, but it is. For instance, I was once an innocent and carefree child, now I find myself in my thirties and loaded with responsibility. In retrospect my childhood seems like it was only yesterday. Where did the time go? I never used to look at things in this perspective. I suppose it was the culmination of life changing events that forced me finally to take notice.
I think I am not alone in my epiphany. In fact I know I’m not. Over the years I have heard the phrase “life is short” on numerous occasions. Once spoken it is usually followed by a rant containing the use of more cliché’ phrases such as “grab the bull by the horns”, “seize the day”, or “follow your dreams”. It’s meaning never really sunk in for me though. At least not until January 2001.
January 18th 2001 was the day that my father died. I guess as a child I had always envisioned him living forever. At least well past the age of fifty-three, which was how old he was when he passed. I remember attending the funeral. I sat unblinking in the first pew when something clicked in my head. “He’s not coming back.” I whispered. I found myself having to come to terms with him no longer being there for me. I didn’t cry. I just pondered all the things that he was going to miss out on like my college graduation, or the birth of a grandchild.
Nine months later 9/11 happened. Here were people going about their business inside the World Trade Center just erased without warning. One minute they might have been sitting in a drab cubicle having a sip of their morning coffee, the next, gone. This event truly made me contemplate my own mortality. How long did I have? Anything could happen anytime, and I could disappear.
On the one-year anniversary of my father’s passing, tragedy struck again. My mother was involved in an accident that left her paralyzed. Although I am grateful that she wasn’t killed, this seemed to me far worse than death. I felt that when my father died he was at peace. My mother, on the other hand, would have to live with her situation. Her life as she knew it had ended that day. This made me think of all the things she would no longer be able to do, and I wept for her.
What truly gave me a different and less helpless perspective on the fleeting moments of life happened on December 9th 2003. That was the day that my daughter was born. In all her brilliance she has shown me that I should not spend my time wondering how much longer I have left to live, but to appreciate the now. Next week she will turn four, and I savor every moment I have with her. She grows so fast. I have also come realize that my mother’s life hasn’t ended. In fact she gives me childrearing tips and is a wonderful and loving grandmother capable of many things.
I think that I have come to terms with my epiphany. I can honestly say it isn’t always a bad thing. It’s just become an incentive to invest in living, because life is too short.
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