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Passing Time

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Everyone in the hospital has a story. A sick parent, dying of cancer. Returning home for months to take care of an ill child. An aunt, a friend, a lover. Maybe it is the thing we can most relate to at the time. Pain and fear are in every room, and on everyone’s mind. It’s easy to see how they would find those stories so close to the surface, that there may be some comfort in them.

The difference is, those stories are finished. Recovery, death, or treatment have been completed and the story has an end. Some are joyful, with a miracle or a hard-fought battle. Some end in sorrow, with death or permanent disability at the end. But they are over. When you are in the hospital, you are in the story, and there is no way to know how it ends.

These are not tales with morals or lessons to be taught. They are not something that exists to make life better or worse. They are just life, in all it’s absurdity and horror. Some people walk in, and they wheel out. Others are carried. The lucky ones are healed rather than just stabilized. So many leave before the story is completed. Treatment is ongoing, or they are waiting for the end to the story.

It’s so easy to fear the end. That all that we have made of ourselves comes crashing down. That our story will be forgotten, that our lives have no meaning. And many are. People have memorials to try and remember, tombstones to mark the earth with a name and a few words, and endless ceremonies to commemorate those who are gone. Tomb Sweeping Day, burning money and leaving offerings to the dead. Dia de los Muertos, with pictures on the ofrenda, food on the altar, mourning and celebration in the air. We try so hard to keep the stories alive.

That is something of what I do here. Maybe these words will survive after I am gone. Maybe my story will have meaning. Maybe I will be more than simply another forgotten soul. But it doesn’t really matter to me. I affect the people around me, and I try to be sure it is for the better. I try to make the world a better place, open to questions and curiosity. Sometimes I even feel like I might have succeeded.

But life is never predictable. It is never stable. And at any moment all that I believed to be true can be gone. I remember that, every day. That every illness could change my life forever. That the next person I meet could change my world. I don’t want stability. I want to live on the ocean of life, fighting the storms and enjoying the calm, watching the horizon for islands and ships, knowing that one day I will sink below the waves and become part of the water again.

I think the only question I will have when it ends is, “did I do enough?” I hope I get to see my life and judge it, to know all my failures and glories. Even for a moment, to have an answer. “Was it enough?”

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Posted by Porticaeli 12:12 Archived in USA Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises travel california photography

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