Two pics herein--both from tonight's finished-after-sunset ride.
Last week I received news that a high school sweetheart had passed away at the way too young age of 38. There isn't much of an upshot to the story--she'd fought cancer for the better part of a decade, and left behind 4 young kids and a grieving husband and extended family.
Although I hadn't seen her in ~18 years, the news hit hard. Harder than it used to. As I age and my friends and family do the same, the frequency of receiving 'news' like this increases. But instead of becoming accustomed or adapted to it I seem to be going the opposite direction. Each time it hits a little harder and a little closer.
Perhaps that's the way it's s'posed to be for the lucky among us--a little at a time so as not to be completely devastating?
Then, just a few days later, some combination of factors led to B, E, and I descending a local (very exposed) section of tech trail on our bikes. We rounded a corner near the bottom and there in the trail was a hysterical woman trying to find her dog. With a little coercion we were able to learn that her dog had gone over the edge. If you've been on this trail you don't even need to look over the edge to know what the eventual outcome of falling there would be. We all scrambled searching down the talus slope and B was first to spot the dog. She was alive and conscious when he got to her, though barely, and after a few tense minutes we all agreed that getting her to a vet ASAP beat the heck out of any other alternative. We took turns carrying her back up the steep, techy trail, her owner frantically and hysterically apologizing to anyone that'd listen. The pitch of the trail and the weight of the dog meant that we had to spell each other on the way up. I took first shift, then E, then B. Almost to the top B handed her off to me one last time, and as I came within sight of the owner's car I felt the dog tense up momentarily and then go limp. Tears welling in my eyes and hyperventilating as I rushed her up the hill, I couldn't bear to linger long enough to find out if what I was sure had just happened actually had. We bade the woman (and her family) good luck and they sped off to find an ER vet.
The mood at the start of today's ride was light but quickly dropped to melancholy. A very young and very good friend of the Doc was just told that his cancer is terminal. 2 toddlers and a wife shortly to be left behind.
What's it all mean? What's it all for? Why are we born to die? Why do some go so soon, especially those that seem to merit a longer existence? Am I next? If not, why not?
I don't even know the right questions yet, much less where to start groping for answers. Far more educated and articulate scholars have failed miserably in their quest to answer the above.
I do know this: Death cannot be related to a certain number or order of demerits in life--if it was then Heather should have been among the last to go.
In the absence of appropriate questions or answers I only know to go on. I don't see much point in living poorly or regretfully, which leaves the option of living fully and enjoying what I have as long as I have it.
Going upstairs to hug the family now. Not that I don't do that several times a day anyway, but if they were given to introspection they might notice being held a little tighter and a little longer tonight.