We’ve been talking about death lately. Perhaps it’s because we recently had our annual physical examinations, and, as a result, had to schedule and undergo follow-up tests. In addition to having to continue treating our cholesterol and gout, we’re long overdue for a colonoscopy. Cliff has hypertension; Jon has circulatory problems—so a stroke or a blood clot could be a death sentence for either of us. Or maybe it’s because we were saddened to learn the details of Naomi Judd’s death by suicide. The heart-wrenching interview with her daughter Ashley on Good Morning America really amplified the singer’s tragic last days. Add to that the racially motivated killing of 10 people at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store over the weekend and our angst about the fragility of life and the reality of death comes into sharper focus.
We don’t know how we’ll eventually meet our own end, but nothing is outside the realm of possibility. Oh, we’re not likely to die by suicide or during space flight or while deep sea diving, but we’re profoundly aware that our deaths could come suddenly, tragically, and without warning.
That’s why we try to treasure each moment. It’s why we started camping, and investing our time and resources into our beloved Cloud 9. Because life is short, and we didn’t want to live with regrets.
A life lived with no regrets—yet fully aware of all that is within the realm of possibility—can be bittersweet. Such a life is spent recognizing that light and dark, birth and death—bitter and sweet—are permanently paired. The tragedies and splendors of life are inescapably linked.
At each moment, we are acutely aware our time is running out. While we find contentment in the beauty of our world, we are also troubled by its passing splendor. To fully inhabit these dualities—the dark as well as the light—is, paradoxically, the only way to transcend the realm of possibility.