Saturday, May 23, 2009

Porch-sitting mull: Life is too precious to be petty

I sit on my front porch as I write this. An old dog's at my feet. A little black cat paws frantically at the window, eager to be out here with us.

There's one sip left in the wine glass my left hand can reach. The breeze blows ever-so-slightly, though the longer I sit here, the noisier it gets. I'm thinking in a few minutes I need to take the sheets off the clothesline before the rain starts.

But first, I need to mull a little bit. About death, about life.

I just got off the phone from a close-to-an-hour call from an old (as in from elementary school) friend. John's beloved uncle & namesake died early this morning from that horrible ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's disease). He was 73; he would have turned 74 on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

Not three hours earlier, my sister called to tell me about the death of (bear with me here) the husband of our brother-in-law's work partner. After dinner last night, Diane's husband dropped dead of a heart attack. He was 55.

Two weeks ago, the father of my other brother-in-law died. He was 86, and had outlived his own father by 23 years. Still, Nick's death was still sobering and sad.

Meanwhile, one of my nephews graduated from college. His older brother was offered a job -- a good job! My Charlie is playing in a volleyball tournament in Richmond, Va. My niece, who received a masters degree a week ago, is getting married next weekend.

And somewhere within all those life events is me. Me, who has silly, often petty misunderstandings with people I care about.

What to do? Pet the dog, drain the wineglass, let the black kitty out if he promises to sit on my lap and not run away. To hug my Charlie when he gets home; to bleach his stinky knee pads. To cry at my niece's wedding, and to dance at her reception.

Mostly, to put it all into perspective. Which means, in part, to keep trying to be the person I need to be, and would like to be, and to prefer to think of myself as actually being. And please oh please, to remember what matters.

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