When I was a boy I could never have imagined a time that my existence would be over.
When I was a young man at the height of my perceived invincibility, I was convinced I was going to live forever.
Now I am in the throes of a middle-aged crisis and my mortality is an ever-present issue. From the persistent aching in my knee to the breakdown of my stomach function, it has become inescapably apparent that my existence is indeed finite.
And when my golden years envelop me fully the Reaper will be ever at the corner of my vision, waiting to extend his icy hand forward and accompany me to what lies beyond this veil.
Pretty uplifting post so far, right?
Today I met two travelers who have journeyed together for over 58 years. They have been friends, lovers, husband and wife. And now it is clear to them that the journey is nearing its inevitable conclusion.
“She has stomach cancer and I have emphysema. We both know the end isn’t far off,” he said without a hint of bitterness, only acceptance, “and we’re okay with it.”
“We sure are.” she echoed his sentiment. “Even the worst days of our lives were the best because we had each other.” And then she brought to my metaphorical knees.
“I wouldn’t want to be in this life without him. I want us to pop together.”
Her vocabulary was simultaneously heartbreaking and hilarious. As is my lot, my time with these lifelong traveling companions was brief but poignant. They came into my life at a time when I am wrestling with my own sense of self and mortality. I’ve been burning through far too much time asking myself why I’ve failed at certain goals, why I have yet to scale specific mountains; I have been demanding answers from the Universe that it is under no obligation to provide.
That needs to stop.
But let’s face it… it won’t. I’m human (I know, I hate it too) and this means I am riddled with self-doubt, anxiety and millions of other psychological issues. But that’s okay. After all, challenges are the fire in which our mettle is tested and our true selves are forged.
And so I owe my new friends a debt of thanks for providing me with some much-needed perspective. I hope they find the timed closure they so desire.
I hope I can find the balance I have so desperately been missing in my own life.
I hope Stephen King doesn’t sue me for totally ripping off The Shawshank Redemption.
See you in the lobby, kids…