Lost in a Moment: Reflections on Life & Death

Much on my mind tonight. A very sad day as my family said farewell to one of our own. Jim Jones was fortunate to live a long, full life. He was loved, now he is missed.

Odd to feel such melancholy mixed with the joy of spending time with people I see less and less of. I’m reflecting on so many changes as the children become young men and women. The time with our elders growing ever more precious.

There are dwindling numbers in our family, even as new faces join us as squealing babies or strangers who seek to join our tribe. I’m talking about the faces who’ve been around since I was the child, running and playing at their feet. Seeing someone I love lose a father reminds me of how badly I miss my own father, my own brother. Once my mother passes away, it will just be my sister and I united against this world. I don’t know how I will cope, yet I draw strength in knowing that at least I have her when others are tragically estranged from their own flesh and blood.

I feel as if the hourglass is accelerating. How did this happen? One moment I was a young man, bluffing my way through life and driving toward my goals with relentless determination; the next, I was here, battle-hardened and seeing a flood of familiar faces changed by gray and wrinkles and their own tribulations. I’m tempted to dismiss this as a cruel illusion, but the decades are measured by the aches in my own body.

Mortality stalks me these days like an assassin I must fight off with pills to regulate the blood flowing through my pipes. Will my fate be realized at the end of a thief’s blade in some dark alley? Will I spend my last days in a hospital bed fighting mutations?

The aches in my soul rival the ones in my joints. Poof! The years are gone and the memories fading. These moments I experienced now feel like different people than the man I am now, each of them occupying spaces that seem like lifetimes ago. Was I really there? It becomes harder and harder to tell. I must write things down, capture them with my camera, to not lose them like leaves in the stream.

What am I feeling? Older than I want to be. Scared that my best days are behind me instead of before me. Terrified of sharing my life with someone special because she’ll just become another person I fear losing. Is grief the price we pay for vanquishing loneliness? I’ve lost my ability to fully feel the joy of beginnings without building fortifications to shield against the brutal inevitability of endings.

Worries about my child are the worst. They haunt me constantly. Have I prepared her for the challenges life will throw at her? Is she equipped with the judgment to navigate the twists and turns? Can she avoid the random violence of a world gone mad? Will I, like my mother, have to one day bury my own child? No, no, no! This is too horrible to even conceive. It is far better that she buries me, hopefully many many years from now.

I don’t want to freeze time, I just want the moments we have left to matter. I want to feel as if I’m making progress toward a destination worth pursuing. To know I didn’t waste this gift that most of us take for granted, while others fight desperately to stay alive. Is there still time? Am I too old? Did I play it too safe too many times? Will I spend the rest of my life working hard just to stay afloat? Will I feel more gratitude or regret when my own personal doomsday arrives?

So many questions, so few things I know for certain. One thing is crystal clear to me: We are more than these things we own, all of which end up scattered once we’re gone. The most valuable thing we have is the time we spend being in the now, in the moment, with friends and family.