The Transience Of Life

4 May

I am participating in the 2012 Wordcount Blogathon, which means one post every day for the month of May.

As I write this, I am sitting on the subway (having miraculously gotten a seat with enough room to type) on my way to the memorial service for my friend Margaret, who died last week.

Her passing was a big shock to me and my husband. We knew that she had been sick, but we had no idea that her illness was life-threatening. We did not know that she had cancer.

As I prepare to honour Margaret’s memory and offer condolences to her husband, I am still reeling from the very unexpected death of my aunt just three months ago. I find it hard to believe that so recently, I was jetting to the other side of the world to comfort my mom and help scatter the ashes of a woman who had been like a second mother to me.

These events – the deaths of my aunt and my friend – have led me to think almost obsessively about the transience of life. I am very aware that at some point over the next few years, I will lose my mom, who is now the last surviving sibling in her family. In all likelihood, because I am ten years younger than my husband, someday I will be widowed – hopefully a long time from now.

And I think about how I am getting along with everyone in my life, how much they all mean to me, and how much it would devastate me if any of them were to suddenly not be here anymore. I worry about whether I am a good enough mother, wife, sister, daughter, and friend.

I find myself feeling permanently shaken by the idea that at any moment, someone I love could simply and suddenly be gone forever. Arguments and disagreements upset me a great deal more than they used to, because what if I never get a chance to make it up with the other person? What if I never get to say sorry?

Earlier today, I gave one of my best friends a directive that she is not allowed to die. Ever. Not understanding the depth of how I feel about all of this these days, she asked why.

Well, it’s because I value her friendship and although our only communication is via email and Facebook, she is an integral part of my life. And I want her and my other loved ones to be there forever.

I know it’s a simplistic wish – for people to never die – but whenever I lose someone close to me, I feel like a part of me dies with them.

The only bright part of this is that when they die, a part of them stays alive with me – a part of them that I carry with me always, no matter where I go.

My point in all of this is that life is short. There is no time for meaningless disagreements that really don’t matter, and there is no time for people to treat their loved ones in a way that makes them feel unhappy, unwanted, or unworthy.

We need to embrace the people we have, while we still have them.

And when arguments happen, as they invariably do with us humans, there is no better time to patch things up than the present.

(Photo credit: This picture has a creative commons attribution license.)

10 Responses to “The Transience Of Life”

  1. mareyeka at 8:39 AM #

    As a nurse, I’ve seen many, many people die. Some were shocking and unexpected deaths, while others were expected to come and everyone was waiting. For the last five years of my nursing career, I worked in palliative care. I loved it. There is something very special about working in that environment, providing the best care possible to both the patient and his or her family.

    I think it is very important to talk about death, a topic that people are so hesitant to mention. It is, though, a part of life. We live and then we die. What we have to do while we are living is make the most of our time here so that when we do leave, part of us stays behind forever, in the hearts of those we have left behind.

    My sympathies for the loss of your friend and your aunt. Just remember that it hurts a lot because you have loved them and you were loved by them. This is special. Not everyone leaves this world leaving behind people who cared. They are the sad ones, not to be mourned, not to be remembered.

    • runningforautism at 3:25 PM #

      I have such admiration for people who work in palliative care. There is something very special about helping someone make a peaceful transition from this life to the next. It is very sad to think of people not having anyone to mourn them. I like to think that everybody makes their mark in this world. Thank you for reading.

  2. Jennifer Patrick at 9:17 AM #

    I’m so sorry! Thoughts and prayers to you today….You are right, Life is short and you’ve reminded me to call my aunt who is in New York (I currently live in Houston) and battling stage 4 colon cancer. Thanks for the post!

    • runningforautism at 3:26 PM #

      I’m so sorry to hear about your aunt. It is so hard when someone you love who is far away is battling with something like that. Positive thoughts of love and peace going out to you and your family.

  3. rufusthedog at 12:26 PM #

    Thanks so much for an eloquent post–sending condolences to you on these sudden losses.

    Take care,

  4. barbfreda at 2:13 PM #

    Sorry for your loss. I lost my brother a year ago (almost) and it has been a painful year. It made me wish to make every day special and I hope in some small ways I manage to do that every day, even when I’m perhaps NOT as kind or nice or patient as I can be with everyone I meet.

    Here is what I wrote about it then (at the end of last year’s blogathon):

    Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • runningforautism at 3:32 PM #

      I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your brother. That must be so hard. These events in my life have made me appreciate my own brother all the more. Your tribute to your brother is absolutely lovely. I want to bake bread now.

  5. spiritsguidingway at 6:52 PM #

    Kirsten, I’m sorry about the loss of Margaret. Today I also blogged about today being the 7 month anniversary of my dads passing. Loss is so hard to take no matter who is lost. I’ve lost everyone in my extended family, I only have my husband and children left so I treasure them with every cell in my body. I know what it’s like to bury a child, and both parents, friends, loved ones… not a single one is easy to do. I’m sending you a big hug for today and remember to always tell those you love that you love them for you never know how long you have with them.
    ((((( big hugs )))))

    • runningforautism at 9:06 PM #

      Thank you, Mimi, You are right. It is hard no matter who you are saying goodbye to. I wish you peace and love as you remember your dad.

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