You know it already and not just from me: with contemporaries dying all around us (me), we feel like ducks in a shooting gallery. The shots are more frequent and more deadly now; it’s just a matter of time. Unlike our younger friends, we no longer have any illusions about being immortal. It’s a matter of certainly when, and the question that concerns us is how. As Woody Allen said, “I don’t mind dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” But while we wait to be surprised, or astonished, here’s a thought that hadn’t occurred to me.
A younger neighbour of mine (she’s only 80), just returned from Montreal where she attended the funeral of a very close friend she had known since school days, closer than usual, because the friend ended up being my friend’s son’s mother-in-law, part of the family. And I, as some of you may know, have recently mourned the loss of two very old friends, dating back 60 and 70 years. My neighbour said something I hadn’t thought of. She said it’s a new phase of our lives that we hadn’t encountered before, hadn’t, in fact, counted on. We have no previous experience to guide us; it’s new territory, emotional territory and intellectual as well.
A learning curve. At our age!
It’s not easy. I remember George Burns - do you remember George Burns? (January 20, 1896 – March 9, 1996) American comedian, actor, singer, and writer) Pause while I read the history of his career. Anyway, Burns died at the age of 100. I remember as he approached that age, he commented that he wasn’t worried about dying at age 100 because very few people die at that age. They do now, because they’ve been living longer.
So - a learning curve. We keep putting it off, don’t we? Few people ask the question that no one seems to be able to answer:
Why are we here?
The next question is asked a lot, and there are many different attempts to test it:
Is there life after death?