Thursday, September 16, 2010

One Year Closer to the Grave

I called my best childhood friend a few weeks ago to wish her a happy birthday. She was turning 38. I'll be catching up to her next week.

*ring ring*

- Hello?

- Hey Laurster! Happy Birthday! How are you doing? Having a good day?

- Oh well [she laughs] you know. One year closer to the grave!

I scolded her for saying that, and she was kind of joking, but then again I guess it's true. And lately I seem to find reminders of human mortality everywhere. For example, on the radio I heard two morning show hosts have this conversation:

- When do you think middle age begins?

- I don't know. I guess that's open for debate.

- The most recent statistics show that the average North American lifespan is 76. So technically, when you're 38 you're in the middle.

- So you're saying your life is half over once you're 38?

- That's what I'm saying!

Way to hammer the point home, radio people! Aren't you supposed to be cheering people up in the mornings?

Then there have been actual deaths. The friendly, energetic handyman who took care of our premises at work, who couldn't have been more than 55, dropped dead of a sudden heart attack. Not right before my eyes, mind you, but it still came as a shock. One day he was up on a ladder, whistling a happy tune, changing lightbulbs, and the next, boom, he's gone forever.

A woman I work with, someone 2 years younger than me, lost her father very suddenly last week.

And my own step-dad could be doing better. He has high cholesterol but can't tolerate the medication that was prescribed to him. He also had a scan done on his heart, which shows that his heart muscle is enlarged. I know from watching Dr. G., Medical Examiner (a forensics show on the Discovery Health Channel) that this is a Bad Thing. The bigger the heart muscle, the more likely that person is to die of a sudden, massive heart attack. Now every time I see him I wonder if it will be the last. He's in his early 70's already. He seems lively and full of plans for the future, but you never know.

It's all adding up. I've been feeling kind of introspective lately. It's not all bad. I'm feeling very grateful for every day I have with my loved ones, as I hold that consciousness of life's fragility. I guess that's all I can do.


Kate said...

What? Half my life is over?! That's awful. I just started living it.

Anonymous said...



You're funny. I miss being 38.

LL Cool Joe said...

That's why you must live each day as if it's your last, because it may be!

Has that cheered you up a bit?

Have a stiff gin, everything will look a bit better then. :D

Sparkling Red said...

Kate: Truthfully I think healthy people like you and me, who exercise and eat our veggies, will live until we're at least 90. Therefore middle age is still a few years in the future!

JDaneTyler: LOL Indeed, I hear you. I work closely with someone who is always bemoaning the woes of having just turned 30. I tell her "Cry me a river!".

LL Cool Joe: Oh, I am so cheerful... can I have that drink now? ;-)

Just Plain Tired said...

Well shoot, if 38 is considered middle aged then I'm in the early stage of senior citizenship here.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

I'm thinking if I make mid-fifties I will be lucky. It's just the way things go for people in my family. So basically I'm in the last decade of my life.

Scarlet Ily said...

I try to soak it all in, all those special times with the people I love, because I realize life as we know it could change instantly. Instead of feeling sad, though, I feel blessed and lucky to be alive and kickin'!

DarcsFalcon said...

Well sure, every day is a day closer to the grave. That's why life - and each day we have it - is such a gift. :)

Jameil said...

:( That's pretty depressing. But for the record, I'm above average in everything else. I most certainly don't plan on being below in this!!

Jenski said...

My Mom always says on her birthday, "Another birthday is better than the alternative!" I'd rather get older than not be around too. :-)