For sure, death is not an exciting topic. Unless, of course, you're Randy Pausch or Mitch Albom, or Jack Nicholson, who have each made millions discussing/acting the subject. If you don't believe in the power of marketing, all you have to know is that even my son and his friend recently compiled a "Bucket List," probably a side effect of their upcoming transition from high school to college and Beyond! Some things on the list: Sky dive, Party in Cancun, Protest Something, Storm Chase, Wedding Crash, Walk on The Great Wall, Be a Game Show Contestant. Cool. (They did put Run a Marathon ... smile!)
When death happens, writers who seek meaning in their own written word and that of others are called upon to make sense from seemingly senseless events.
My Aunt Catherine died last week. She had been diagnosed with gall bladder cancer early last summer, and despite several surgeries, procedures, and chemotherapy, she passed away. She fought bravely, but couldn't escape the reality of the disease.
The first thing I did after learning of her diagnosis was to make a doctor's appointment. The second thing I did was to get online and find out all I possibly could about gall bladder cancer. None of it was good, though we all thought she had more time. The reality of my aunt's situation was that she had probably had the disease for years, and was only diagnosed when she couldn't ignore the symptoms any longer. Only now have we realized that the last six months of her life were likely the last she would have sustained had she received her diagnosis two or three years ago. The irony, of course, is if she had known these were her last six months, she likely would have made alternate choices.
As my aunt's health rapidly failed, I received the news that the father of a close law school friend had died suddenly of a heart attack. Nothing about these events makes any sense to me, as I search for meaning in their too-early passing.
Why do some people live to 100, and some not? Is it that life is meant to be lived as if you only had 30 days left? Is it that you are meant to live every day as if it were your last? Are we left to believe that even in the face of inevitable death, we would do better to live every day "normally", and stick to our every day schedules with ordinary highs and lows, rather than run and out and check off the items on our own bucket lists?
Who Knows. I don't have any answers. And, that's the frustrating part. There should be answers. There should be cures. There should be ways to heal even the most deadly illnesses. Why was it easier to put a man on the moon than it has been to find a cure for cancer or AIDS? Very strange, don't you think?
It's a little to soon for me to find humor in any of this, but I did want to let you all know why I've seemed so morose these past several months. I don't need consolation, and I certainly don't want to talk about it again and again and again. As I work on a Tribute for my Aunt, though, I'm in search of meaning, where there seems to be none. It's just life, and death naturally follows.
Here's a picture of my aunt and my mother, a long time ago .... I call it "Girls Just Want To Have Fun!"