Friday, July 20, 2012

Precious Life

Again today we are reminded of how fragile life is.  One evening we're going to the movies with our friends for an evening of fun and camaraderie then, without warning Death appears and snatches away life.

I have never forgotten how I felt on the morning on September 11, 2001 when I left work at my hotel job in Lionville, Pennsylvania.  I was thinking about the families of those who died in the destruction of the World Trade Center.  Earlier that day I saw images of people who had gone to work earlier that day just like me.  The images that stuck in my mind was of those distant figures who jumped from the upper floors, bicycling their way to a certain death rather than be burned alive.  These people who had to make the horrific decision of how they would die, burned to death or jump to their death.

I was angry.  Who would do such a thing to people who they didn't even know?

Then I thought of how fragile life is.  How in an instant our live could be ended on a random act of violence.

A few weeks ago a man I knew slightly was hit and killed by a drunk driver.  Even though I onlymet this man once I knew he was a happy man in the prime of his life and enjoying every day.  Then, on that fateful night that a drunk bartender decided to get behind the wheel of his car he snuffed this man's life out by running into this man who was riding his bicycle home.  Gone like that, one more life.

I consider myself very, very fortunate.  At the grand old age of seventy years I am still in good health.  My mind works and my body, except for a few aches, is also relatively good.

I have everything materially I want (except maybe a swimming pool).

I am in a solid, loving relationship.

I have interests that give me a great deal of pleasure that I never tire of.

I am not haunted by the loss of my youth which I had feared when I was younger but has turned out to be a false fear.

I embrace my senior years.

I have a good life.

If tomorrow a random act of nature or man should end out my life, I would have no regrets.  I have lived a long and good life.

Having said all of the above, I do want to make the point that I appreciate more today every day that I am on this earth.

When I was younger I never gave much thought to the appreciation of life.  I actually feared getting older.

What a blessing that now that I am older I no longer have that fear.  Instead I have an appreciation of life and that appreciation is reinforced every time I hear of a tragic event like last night.

At times like these we usually hear the standard "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and loved ones."  I always thought that comment was somewhat vacuous and didn't really convey sincere feelings.

I guess it's all right if someone else wants to say that but for me I say to the family members and loved ones:

"I am so sorry that you had to lose your loved one in such a senseless act of evil.  The pain of your loss will never completely go away but in time it will lessen.  Take this time to appreciate your life and all the good things and people in it.  Never, but never take anything for granted. Make every day count."


anne marie in philly said...

even we cancer survivors live a better, more mindful life knowing that said life was almost over when we heard the C word.

life is great; I don't take for granted waking up alive every morning.

Jon said...

At tragic times like this, in the wake of so many senseless deaths, it's nearly impossible to find adequate words of condolence. The thoughts that you've chosen are very sincere and perfectly expressed. Life is indeed very fragile - - as Carl Sandburg said, it is like
"a candle in the wind, hoar-frost on a stone."

Raybeard said...

Your wise words are a tonic, Ron.

Yes, must admit that in my mind it jars whenever I hear the word 'prayers' (for the victims) in the wake of a tragedy/atrocity as has just occurred. Of course people are entitled to find consolation as best they can, but that particular word nowadays carries so much negative baggage (at least for me), that I can do without the assumption that we ought to look for help and solace to a 'being' who either allows such things to happen or who negligently takes 'his' eyes off the ball. Hence your own words at the end of your blog encapsulate a much more positive, healing and hopeful reflection of reality.

Ron said...


I too believe "that people are entitled to find consolation as best they can" but it has always puzzled me when someone survives a horrific event such as this and says "God saved me." Well, why did God permit (or create) the event in the first place? Of course the answer always is "God works in mysterious ways" or "evil persists in the world." Then there is the catch all "you have to have faith." To me none of this makes sense.

I feel bad for the family members of those who died. Other than that "God" had nothing to do with it hence no prayers are needed.


Ron said...


Well said.


Ron said...

Same here Anne Marie!

Ur-spo said...

that was lovely; thank you.

Ron said...

You're always so kind Dr. Spo.