Monday, 10 March 2014

Crossing The Rubicon

I was told last night that a friend from my past, a fellow who attends the church I once attended, is in hospital in the end stages of cancer. His wife tells me he will not be coming home from the hospital. She is heartbroken. He is a good man, a hard working father who loves his children and grandchildren. It seems that death is not restricted to those of us with ALS; once again I am reminded that all of us leave one day, some early, some late, some hard, some easy.

There is a bridge you cross in life, a bridge to a place where death becomes the norm, no longer unusual. In our early years, for most of us death is a stranger, rarely touching us. Death happens to those who are older than we, those for whom the years seem long, except in the most tragic of circumstances. Even when it is our parents we can look at it as a normal part of life, or at least as normal as possible. Certainly we, as youngsters, see death as something that happens in someone else's life, not ours.

As we approach middle age, as the years progress, we see that ladder shorten, we move up a rung and death becomes more common to us. Our grandparents, our parents, our aunts and uncles; they all take their turn at the dance with death. We see death no longer as something that happens far away. Now it is only slightly above us, just beyond our horizon. Tragedy is rare but death is something we begin to see on a more personal basis.

Then, at some point, we cross that bridge, climb that last rung on the ladder, and death becomes something that happens around us, to our peers, to those who we have seen beside us in our communities and in our lives, connected through a horizontal web instead of a vertical web. This last transition, this final segment of our life journey, is supposed to happen in the later years of our life. For me, it seems to be happening earlier.

Death is all around me. As a part of an online ALS community I see it daily, although I am removed from it by distance I am yet connected to it by technology. In times gone by I would be alone in this, so perhaps our modern communication age is to blame for this more visible transition. Yet even without the Internet, I know of people in my own community, in my own medical cohort, in my own age group. I am here early, I have crossed the Rubicon. Life, and death, is a part of each of my days.

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