My family is experiencing a strange juxtaposition of momentous events. One Saturday, we celebrated the wedding of one of my great-nieces. The next Saturday, another of my great-nieces was killed in a car crash.
One event was a long-anticipated day filled with joy, beauty and laughter. Then, exactly one week later, an utterly-unanticipated day of shock, horror and grief. As has often been said, by people much wiser than I, “life is full of stuff.”
Happiness and pain are equally inescapable — a truth that is wonderful or terrible, depending which side of the line you happen to be walking at the moment. We will experience both, as surely as the sun rises and the rain falls. Perhaps it’s best not to know which we will experience more often, or how deeply.
While we are here, we think of young death as tragic. Most of us hope to live a long life. But in the grand scheme of things, whether we live a single day or a hundred years, it’s a flash of time so tiny that the difference between the two is hardly worth noting. All death is tragic. Or no death is tragic. All we can do is live the span we are given, and ride the waves of love and loss as they roll by.
From the instant sperm meets egg, we are hurtling toward death. Nothing is as certain to kill you as life. So if you’d rather not die, please refrain from being born. In fact, C.S. Lewis has theorized that death, not life, may be the Big Thing. Perhaps life’s true importance is that it is a prerequisite for death. You can’t get there through any other door; you have to live in order to die.
I suppose we shall see, one way or the other. Meanwhile, if there’s joy in Ojai and grief in Temecula, it’s best to remember that the distance between the two isn’t really very far.