On Mortality, Purpose, and Meaning

I've been giving a lot of thought to mortality lately.  Likely because, well, for one thing we just experienced Covid.  During 2020 I would watch Nicole Wallace in the evenings, and she always did those "in memoriam" segments for the Covid dead.  I remember many of them.  At one point they became just too much to continue to watch.

Why them?  Why not me?

Why did a precious five year old girl, who used to remind her parents to put on their face masks, die of Covid?  Why?

Why did she die while Donald Trump survived?  Why?

In our post-vaccine world, I no longer ask those questions about the daily Covid death toll, because for the overwhelmingly most part, the dying chose not to vaccinate.  And while I do not get any pleasure from their deaths, and I view them as victims and their deaths as tragedies and maybe even murders (Hello Tucker Carlson you fucking deranged liar!), I no longer ask why.

I know why. 

During a recent checkup I had a wonky test result with calcium, and that may lead to some surgery.  I think it will be somewhat minor though.  But, there was another issue, for about six weeks I knew I had some kind of mass in my abdomen, and since I've already had a radical hysterectomy I knew it couldn't be something like a fibroid.  So that was weighing heavy on my mind.

It ends up I have a hernia.  Which women who have had abdominal surgery are at high risk for.   I've had two of those surgeries, and I spent at least six months lifting very heavy boxes recently.   Doing fulfilment on some orders, which is a long story, and also Covid-related.  The details are so unimportant. 

So a hernia, even though it does mean some kind of surgery, is a big relief.   No tumor is always good news right?

I've probably skated again.  Why?

This week on Long Island, there was a horrific car crash on the Long Island Expressway in Quogue.  I woke up Sunday morning, quite hungover (stress drinking, I didn't know I didn't have a tumor yet) and I got that alert on my laptop.  I knew immediately it would be young people (it was) and that someone had lost their kids.  I Facebooked my 22 year old niece who goes out east a lot to find out if she and her brother were safe at home.

They were.  I told her about the crash and told her, you know, there's so much of this shit it's best you and your brother just stay home.

Because that's not a loss I want to live through.

But someone did this week.  A lot of someone's did this week.

Why?

A good friend of mine knew someone who died in the Surfside collapse.  Her name is Estelle Hedaya, and as of today, hers is the sole body that has still not been found.

Here is the Washington Post story about that fact.  

My friend sent me a link To Estelle's blog and I spent some time looking at it.  Like me she had turned 50, she felt as if she was in the prime of her life, she had so many plans.  She was loving her life.   I imagine she and I had much in common, though we never met.   

And now she is gone.  Why?

Roman and Greek mythology both tell of the three fates.  In Greek, they are Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos.  In Roman, they are Nona, Decima, and Morta.  In both mythologies, it is Lachesis/Decima who measures the thread of life, and Atropos/Morta who cuts it when the time comes. 

There are no appeals.  When your thread has been measured, it has been measured, and when that measure of time runs out, your thread of life will be cut.  You can cry and you can plead, but your pleas will go unheard and unnoticed.   Perhaps even worse, someone you love more than your own life, can have their thread cut.  You can beg and pray to take you and not them, but we don't get to make those trades.  If we did, few children would ever die.  

And so your pleas for the life of your child will also go unheeded, unnoticed.  And so we all pray, and pray hard that it is never a child we love.   And yet every day, children die.   And nothing breaks me more, and nothing I could ever do can ever change it. 

We all want some deeper meaning to life. 

"Everything happens for a reason."

But maybe it doesn't.  Maybe we weren't put here for any reason, other than whatever reason or purpose we ourselves find.  

There's no reason a five year old dies, from Covid or anything else.

It's random.  It's random cruelty.  Why?

We'll never know. 

What is my reason for being here?  Why didn't I die when I was seriously ill in 2016?  Why did I find out a mass in my abdomen is a hernia and not advanced cancer?  How many people went to the doctor yesterday and got the opposite news?

Many.

Why?

I don't know.  It's not because I'm better than them, that I can assure you.

It's not because I'm loved more, or loved less.  I don't believe there's any reason.  So what is my purpose?

I came to the conclusion several years ago, after my illness, that my only purpose here can be to make someone else's life better every single time I can.  Be it through a compliment, a donation, a dinner, a talk, whatever.  To be kind whenever I can.  To choose kindness however and wherever I can. 

I work on this every single day.  That is my purpose here.  But it's my purpose.  I don't know what yours is.  And it's not why I'm alive.  Bad people live to be 100 years old all the time.  Good people, great people, kind people die young every day.  We can't trade lives, we can only curse the fates that take a five year old and allow a monster 100 years on this earth. 

I am so grateful to be alive, and today while driving, I screamed in my car from joy over being here.  I want more.  I want more years.  I want to do a lot more.  I'm so fucking happy.  I'm so fucking greedy. 

Yes, that could end.  It doesn't have to end with a bad diagnosis.  It can end on a dime.  We all know this.

But to even have the chance to believe you have a future.  That you'll laugh more, that you'll fall in love again, that you'll fuck.  That you'll dance.  That you'll travel somewhere and see something beautiful.

What a gift.  What a fucking gift!

And I am so grateful.

But why me?  Why not the very young person who died in that car accident last weekend?  Or who will die this weekend?  

I don't know.

I'll never know.  

 


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