I read the news each day.  I try to stick to humour or lifestyle columns but it’s difficult to force my eyes away from the distraction of the death and corruption splashed across the headlines of the top news stories.  As time progresses, I am more affected by the stories I read. I suppose that’s reassuring: becoming desensitized over time would be a disturbing thought. Stories of travesties against children anger me and upset me the most; reports of senseless deaths give me the greatest sense of emptiness.

As I write that term — “senseless deaths” — I am struck at how strange that sounds, as if death is ever sensible.  But when a life is erased because of an isolated moment of carelessness or over something trivial, it has the power to thrust me into a state of existential despair.  Death after a full life feels different.

Not too long ago, my wife’s great-grandmother passed away at the age of 103. You’ll think I’m a sociopath for saying it but, as fond as I was of the woman, I couldn’t help but feel a bit happy at her funeral.  Here was a woman who had gone through two world wars and lived to hold her great-great-grandchildren in her arms.  She enjoyed her wine when it was made available to her, and she had a good sense of humour, and an endearing sense of morality.  Once, as she held our infant son in her arms and I confirmed that he was her great-granddaughter’s child and that I was the father, she cast me first a disapproving look, and then one of  disbelief as I reassured her she had been at our wedding and that the child had not been born out of wedlock.  Dementia was eroding her memory and, as the end approached, I saw the appearance of anxiety and fear as she tried to navigate a world which was starting to become confusing and overwhelming to her.  When she died peacefully, it felt wrong to feel sadness.  She had consumed life and sucked the marrow from the bone.  Her funeral was an opportunity to celebrate a life well-lived.

Those of you familiar with Tom Waits might remember his song “Time” with its simple chorus of:

And it’s Time, Time, Time

And it’s Time, Time, Time

And it’s Time, Time, Time

That you love

And it’s Time, Time, Time.

Life is time. Time to spend doing the things that make my life meaningful. Today, I am thankful for life; for the air that enters my lungs; for the reliable beating of my heart.  It can be snuffed out at any second, and that makes it all the more precious.

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