2011 was supposed to be different. "No more death," I said, "please."
Well, not literally no more death - that's a little unrealistic. Just no more death of people I know. (Please) There were too many last year - too many deaths, too many widows, too many fatherless children. So full of vitality and life, and then (some in an instant, unexpectedly): dead. I wept for them all as I struggled to find space for the pieces of sadness inside of me.
Frank tells me I'm addicted to the internet, something I try and deny, but it must be true. Why else did I check in with facebook, email and the news just as I was walking out the door at twelve? "Tasmanian hiker falls to his death in NZ" blared ABC Online, and I never can resist clicking through, just in case I might know them.
And it turns out (sickeningly, distressingly) I did. So full of vitality. Hiking, climbing, relishing the scenery and life, and then (in an instant, unexpectedly): dead. That loping walk, his laconic humour and cheeky grin, the assuredness (but understated) with which he carried himself: gone. (And I'm supposed to see him next week, at a training day)
Appointments made me move, but I phoned Frank and shed a tear or two as I told him the news. Between the lines my heart whispered (as it convulsed and froze in turn), "Be careful my love. It could happen in an instant, unexpectedly - don't you be dying too." And as I rode through town I muttered to myself, "Be careful girl. It could happen in an instant, unexpectedly..."
And then I realised that mixed in amongst the shock and sadness and dazed incomprehension, was fear. Some of these men had no chance to say goodbye. Life was ripped from them by a tree, a cliff (so rude). We none of us know what lies around the corner... death could be but a flick away, but we'll never know it until it happens.
The city dazzled me with its amazing technicolour as I rode to my meetings. Sky of azure blue, reeds and grasses along the river levee the perfect foil. My legs flowed with power and strength as they carried me forward. A headwind made me focused and determined. I loved being alive today. I cherished it. I thanked God for life. My life. And as I revelled in the wonder of it all, I laughed at death and vowed no matter how thin the veil to the other side might be, I wouldn't let it cow me. Death might come at any time, but I won't (I can't) hide at home and try to beat it by avoiding every risk. And I won't fuss over Frank at every moment.
No. I shall embrace life. Not as if every minute is my last, but conscious that it could be. Not protectively warding off 'that moment' for as long as I can, but fully aware I can't control my destiny. And if I can't control my destiny, I may as well lay my anxiety aside and rest. Why waste energy on what I can't change? Instead, be at peace, live well within each day. Enjoy the good life, and leave my earthly end with God.