Reading Matt Zoller Seitz's remembrance of his wife, Jennifer, on the tenth anniversary of her death, filled me with a sense of dread, sadness and anxiety. Despite having read Matt's reviews on RogerEbert.com for years and being aware of the books he's written about director Wes Anderson, this was an aspect of his life of which I was unaware. I felt sadness for his loss, even though it is now a decade old. The dread and anxiety crept-in because such a read will invariably make one reflect on their own life situation and think, 'Oh no, what if it happens to me?!'
Ashley & I will have been together sixteen years this June. First and foremost: if anything ever happened to him, I would be devastated. Of that, there is no doubt. It's not something I dwell on, though I do think about it perhaps more than I should. Every time he drives to work, or even goes off to the store on his own, I hope he comes back. I've known people whose spouses have died in car accidents just driving around town.
There's always the health risks. Ashley seems in good shape, and I hope that holds for many years to come. I, on other hand, have high blood pressure, and have had cancer. My dad died at 52, and I am now 40. Here's hoping there's more than twelve years left in me. We never know the future. I could be gone tomorrow, or I could croak a week shy of my 101st birthday in 2076, just like my Grandma Callie. Happy topics, to be sure.
The one thing that gives me solace amidst the stress-inducing realization that life is very fragile, is that it is simply part of how the world works. Everything is temporary. I think we forget that sometimes. From relationships, to homes, to pets, to children, to health, to life itself -- there is no forever in all this. I mean, there might be an afterlife, but we don't know that for sure. For what we know now, on this earth, everything is transitory.
Dad died when I was 21 and, among the many thoughts that went through my head at the time, one of the most incredulous notions was how he'd been alive my entire life, and now he was gone. How do I deal with this?! Maternal grandmother Gummy went when I was 22, and the same thought occurred. Death, up to that point, had been an abstract concept. Sure, people died, but it was something that happened to others. This month, I have attended three visitations/funerals in a nine day span. So it goes.
There are friends whom I've played with as a boy, and whom I've known as a young man where they helped me find my way in the world, and now they're gone. Untimely deaths, all of them, either by accident or by their own hand. It makes me value the friends I do have left. One friend's death in particular hit very hard when I visited his remains at a mausoleum in Indiana. At one point in time, we'd been dancing, joking, arguing and laughing together. At a later point, I was staring at a wall that contained his ashes behind it. There was something that felt monumentally unfair about that moment.
So it goes with relationships. Some folks never have them. Others have several. Some are happy, some are not. A few have managed to find their one true person, and manage to luck out and live long, happy lives with them. Still, none of it is forever, as much as we wish it were. I feel more fortunate about my life than is possible to communicate. I was born into a comfortable existence, and have managed to find love, friendship and success along the way. It is all temporary, and I am grateful for it, nevertheless.