Thursday, July 12, 2012

It comes in threes...

"Stuff comes in threes." How many times have I heard that?

While it can be applied to anything, the idea or belief that things happen in triplicate is usually applied to things that are weird, unusual, or just plan unpleasant. Maybe we notice the 'threes' because we pay more attention when bad things happen, and we're ready for them to stop at a certain point. Good things could just keep happening.

I'm not sure I buy it, but right now it's ringing true.
  • I attended my aunt's memorial in Los Angeles this weekend; she left the mortal coil about a month ago after living with Alzheimer's, such as living with this disease is, for about five years. I didn't know her well. She didn't want to know me as a child; as an adult, long after my dad died, she welcomed me back into her life and helped me learn about their family - the paternal side that I knew less than a paragraph about growing up. I'm grateful for that opportunity, and her willingness to at last see from a different lense.
  • My 98-year-old neighbor, a pillar in my world, a woman who knew me my entire life, my mom as a teenager, my grandparents, and so many more, left us on Friday. She was my evidence that we don't have to leave this world prematurely, as so many in my own family have. Although she's been ready to go for a while, until recently, she maintained her health and independence. But over the last two years or so, her quality of life deteriorated. She couldn't spend time in her garden, and she finally gave up driving. It's difficult to comprehend that she's no longer just across the street, keeping an eye on the neighborhood, or telling stories of former neighbors, friends and events.
  • A woman I've known nearly all my life - we were kids together - was diagnosed with cancer just three weeks ago. Not quite two weeks ago, she had surgery to remove the tumors in her throat. She was going in for more tests this week, but on Monday night, something was very wrong so she called 911. By the time the medics came, she had to be revived, and now she's in the hospital, unconscious. While the human spirit is capable of much and she has two young boys she loved beyond anything, it doesn't look like she's going to recover. She's 49.
None of these are really "about me." But I am deeply sad and feel very affected. Mortality is an interesting thing. We don't know how long we're here. So many leave us before it seems they should - my mom at 64, my dad at 28, my aunts at 48 and 60, grandparents at 68 and 70, cousins at 18, 52, and 54, and countless friends and acquaintances gone at a young age. Yet one could argue that we all have our time - fate, destiny, whatever you might call it (Forrest says, "If you're meant to be drown, you won't be hanged").

Or as one friend says, there are lessons for those of us left behind.

If I could, would I want to know what the future really holds? Probably not. I think it would be hard to understand those lessons and see the gifts or silver linings without truly experiencing them. Currently, lessons coming to mind are:
  • not leaving anything left unsaid (especially to those we care about),
  • asking myself what's really important,
  • planning for the future while living for today - at least covering the bases in whatever way possible for the unpredictable and unknown (perhaps a last gift for those we leave).
But I'm hoping this is it for a while. Three feels like plenty right now because in some ways, these are markers of time... and each of these women were significant in my life for different reasons. They were all part of my history.

For today, I am grateful and happy with where I am in my life. I am healthy, happy, gainfully employed working with good people, with a man I love and adore, and have a home in a location that's hard to beat. And I have exciting plans for my future that I intend to fulfill.

Onward, yes? There's a lot of life yet to be lived, and I don't want to waste a minute.