The Sense of an Ending

Graveyard, St. Augustine, FL

There was a time in my life, not so long ago, when every death was a shock, an offensive against the natural order, an outrage that was not only sad but positively tragic. I was younger and the idea that people I loved or admired or was interested in should die was a personal affront, a bad prank—a cruel insult—played upon us both by capricious fate.

I don’t feel that way anymore. I’ve lived long enough, and seen the passing of enough people (loved ones, acquaintances, the famous and infamous) that I’m not longer moved to feelings of injustice and disbelief. This is what happens to us. We are people, we are mortal, we die; sometimes it’s earlier than average, and sometimes in heartbreakingly unnecessary or painful ways, but always and inevitably—we die.

And, of course, as time goes by, this news becomes more commonplace, more familiar. The longer we live, the more of death we experience. I am becoming ever more aware that this is something that I must learn to accept or it will make life increasingly miserable. Of course we mourn, we grieve, but we cannot afford to spend our finite stores of emotional energy and attention endlessly railing against the hard reality borne upon us by the passage of time. We must learn what we can from the life and from the loss and try to pass it on.

Mostly, we don’t want to think about it. But it is the sense of an ending that gives an intentional shape to our lives. We must choose what is important to us in awareness that our time—everyone’s time—is limited. It is an oft remarked irony that those with the most opportunity to benefit from this observation (the young) are the least likely to take heed of it.

Truth to tell, it’s hard for all of us.

A Year Ago: Light Path

Light fixtures at night, Shirlington, VAI think this would make a fantastic quilt design.
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3 Responses to The Sense of an Ending
  1. [...] A Year Ago: The Sense of an Ending [...]

  2. David Woolley
    February 15, 2013 | 12:22 am

    Well said.

    Your title makes me wonder if you have read the book by the same name.

  3. NT
    February 15, 2013 | 3:50 pm

    I have not read Julian Barnes’s novel. I did read (back in my undergraduate days) Frank Kermode’s book of literary criticsm, which consists of lectures given at Bryn Mawr in 1965.