February 10th, 2019

“If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one

Drying in the color of the evening sun

Tomorrow’s rain will wash the stains away

But something in our minds will always stay

Perhaps this final act was meant

To clinch a lifetime’s argument

That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could

For all those born beneath an angry star

Lest we forget how fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall

Like tears from a star

Like tears from a star

On and on the rain will say

How fragile we are

How fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall

Like tears from a star

Like tears from a star

On and on the rain will say

How fragile we are

How fragile we are

How fragile we are

How fragile we are”

“Fragile” by Sting

I have visited people in ICU’s three times during the last few months. One of them was a friend from the synagogue. He fell outside of his home, and cracked his skull. Another one was a friend from a Bible study group. His esophagus was clogged like a kitchen drain, and he couldn’t get any food into his stomach. The third man was one of my younger brothers. He suffered a stroke four days ago.

I don’t know why I have been to see friends and family in the intensive care unit so frequently. I suspect that it has something to do with our age. The men in the hospital are my contemporaries. We are all old enough to expect some sort of catastrophic failure in our bodies. We might not die, but each of us will get a chance to see our mortality up close and personal.

To use a metaphor from baseball, we are all up to bat.

Karin and I went to visit my brother two days ago at the hospital. He looked much better than I had expected. He sitting in a chair, and he talked with us. His voice was very hoarse from having had a breathing tube inside of him for two days, but he spoke clearly and coherently. He said that his vision was still a bit blurry, and his balance was not good at all. He was recovering quickly.

My brother suffered his stroke while driving.  His vision went bad, yet somehow he managed to get his truck to the side of the road. That is where the police found him. It is amazing to me that he didn’t get into an accident. It is amazing to me that he is still alive.

A person doesn’t need to be old to have a brush with death. It can happen to anyone, anywhere. My brother, Marc, died in a car wreck at the age of twenty-eight. A moment of inattention and a faulty seat belt put him through his windshield. Death was instantaneous.

Life is so fragile. We are so fragile. I know we pretend to be tough and resilient. We somehow convince ourselves that we are immortal, even when all of the evidence says differently. I know that I can cease to exist at any time. I may not even live long enough to finish this post.

Does knowing this make a difference? Maybe. I find myself caring less about certain things, like money. I find myself caring more about other things, like family. I don’t get angry so often. I find it easier to let things go. I am very concerned with using what time I have left on earth. Every day counts. Every day is a gift.

I just have to remember “how fragile we are”.























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