Monday, October 31, 2005

"Touch Upon Time"


When I was six years old, I got my first indication of how death can affect a family.

It was Halloween, October 31st., 1957. I was in the first grade. Scarcely had I been home from school but an hour or so that my mother informed me that my older cousin, Sue, had gotten struck by a train at the crossing that my older brother and I went across every day as we walked to school. Mom had gone to school that day and picked us up instead of letting us walk home, because that area had become a bit of a circus from the police and the morbidly curious. Sue was only 8 years old.

She lived two doors down from us on Water Street, walking home from school the same path as all us kids in the neighborhood. She just had not noticed the approaching train. She died instantly.

I can remember walking down the street past my cousin's house a little while later. Her 9 year old brother, sobbing, and leaning against a tree in their front yard. It was my first experience and my first knowledge that death was a real thing, and it meant a great loss.

Here nearly 50 years later, I have experienced loss from death many times. Some of these losses have been much closer that I'd ever wished them to be. But...it happens. With my father now age 85 and frail, and my mother 80, I feel very lucky that I have been able to share so many years with them. Their lives have been very full ones. They are much loved by many people. I can only hope that if I personally live as long as they have, my life can be half as enriched.

I see death in a more realistic view than I did as a twenty or thirty year old. I see it as an eventuality. Time passes so quickly as we grow older. And yet...

That time when I was six seems both so long ago, and as well like it was just yesterday. Like I could just reach out my hand and see the world around me such as it was five decades past. I think time must indeed be a circle and we stand in the center watching all events at once, weighing the good and bad decisions we've made, and the good and not so good times we've endured.

It's just part of being human.

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