There was a time, when driving to work, say, I’d hear a story on the local talk radio about some tragedy. A fire, or accident, or a murder, and my mind would wander to disturbing and horrible fantasies. What if that happened to me? What would I do? Could I get on with life?
Then I’d shake the thoughts out of my head – ludicrous. “John, you can’t obsess like that,” the little voice scolded, then continued, “you can’t dwell on such low probability events - just live life.” I’d change the station and drive on.
And then it happened. And reality slowly answers the questions posed by that horrible fantasy.
I don’t listen to the news so much anymore. But news still finds me. And when it finds me, I don’t wonder “what if.” I wonder “when.” When will death come?
This may seem fatalistic and dark, perhaps depressing. But as I reflect on it, I'm not depressed. It's more a resignation, perhaps a vague shadow of acceptance. Maybe.
Life and death: Without one, the other ceases; with one, the other is guaranteed. And approaching a year since Amy’s death, it’s unfamiliarity and abstractness seem only to grown with my own mortality coming into view. Finding a meaning in this life, and in my death, feels both more urgent and destined to folly.
Thousands of years of many religions and countless philosophers wrestling with this paradox comforts me. Some. And though some may find solace in some definiteness from those sources, more often I hold my comprehension of life and death like smoke.