“In memory yet green, in joy still felt,
The scenes of life rise sharply into view.
We triumph; Life’s disasters are undealt,
And while all else is old, the world is new.”
– Isaac Asimov
It’s 6:21 in the morning, and I’m dressed for work. I’ve been up since 3:11 am, which is not that unusual for me. I’ve done 40 minutes at the gym, watched a bunch of football highlights, put out the garbage and recycling, and read a few work emails in the last 3 hours. I normally would already be at work, but something is wrong with my car, so I’m waiting until 7 when the auto repair place opens to bring it by.
I think it would be hard for most people to imagine living my life; but then, I think it’s hard to imagine living anyone else’s life. Most of us could not have imagined that we would live the lives we have lived. This is because life is big and full of randomness, and by “randomness” I mean, things outside of our control.
Most of us authors / introverts are kind of control freaks: in our works, we can make things come out like we want them to. This is rarely true in actual life.
This time last year, I was sitting beside my mother’s hospice bed in Green Valley, Arizona. The almost three weeks I spent there are a part of me now. My mother’s view of life was that we are all just links in the chain: she had seen her parents pass, and they had seen theirs, and so on.
I think seeing her three children made it easier for her at the end (we were taking turns, several weeks at a time). She said to me, at the end of a day when she’d mostly slept, “I’m so glad you’re here.”
I grew up near the beach in Northwest Florida, the youngest of her three kids. We still have photos of a time my parents took us out to the beach in the fall, just to take pictures.
And yes, it was warm enough to go barefooted. I was, I believe, 6 or 7 years old.
My mother’s journey took her from upstate New York all over the world. My mother-in-law, who lives in town and is ninety-one years old, was born here after her family fled Russia/Poland to escape antisemitism. She’s lived a life impossible to imagine, although I ask her about it every chance I get.
Life is a great chain, I think: we are all connected, both back through our ancestors and to each other. But each link is still different, with unique memories and experiences.
And while we can’t fully imagine each other’s lives, it’s worth trying.