The Crossroads Of Mortality

I stopped by Mom’s house today to start the vehicle, check for mail, and make sure all is as it should be. I also called and talked to a friend while I was there. We’ve been friends 30 years now and while he’s been the epitome of health as long as I’ve known him, he had some disturbing things happen to him the last three months. It’s culminated into something that will eventually take him from us. As with many things, it’s just a matter of when.

The snow continued to melt outside—our second warm day in a row since the -35 degree with wind chill days last week compliments of the polar vortex…gotta love that phrase—and I found myself momentarily mesmerized by the sound of water draining at the end of the driveway post-phone conversation. A stream formed from two of the neighbor’s houses, combined with what melted from Mom’s, and poured into the sewer.

It was a very simple moment, yet I took it in. I thought about what it may be like to one day find myself in the circumstance of never seeing or hearing this sort of thing again. Would Mom have given anything to be where I was one last time? Would Dad? Grandma? And what memories or thoughts will my friend take with him when it’s that time?

One of my most fervent hopes is that I won’t lack closure for anything in my life or be the one holding up closure for another. That hope is already blown, though, and I know it. Closure isn’t meant to be. I was denied closure in the past and I was asked to deny closure in the present. What will my friend do?

He’s taking the news better than I think I might. Or maybe he isn’t. I could be snuffed out in a heartbeat tomorrow tripping over a Lego and into an elevator shaft at work. Believe me, I can barely live correctly, so I know I won’t die that way. I told him on the phone this afternoon he might very well outlive us all. That’ll really piss him off if that happens, probably more than if he goes before us.

One thing I won’t do is pity him. Nobody needs pity. But I will help and I will be strong for him and his wife when they need it. I can only hope that whatever suffering he’s in for is brief. And this thought of brief suffering has brought up memories of my father’s time with Alzheimer’s. That was 7 years of hell for that man. 7 years and some people go longer than that.

I know if I wind up developing it, I won’t put Ralph through it or any of my friends. Not that. It’s too much a burden on them and I won’t be that. My hope is that if things start to get bad, there will be just enough of me left to know to walk down the street to the lake and try to swim to Canada. I won’t make it to our neighboring country, but like everything else in my life, I’ll try.

What preoccupies me most these days, though, is what mark we leave behind. Who will remember my parents after their friends, Ralph, me, and my relatives pass on? Who will remember my friend after his time has gone? What mark do I leave behind? My books? My blog posts? My idea for a hat that says “Make American Trumpless Again”? My senior Olympics tryout swimming to Canada and losing?

I know there’s something after this life. I have no doubt of that. Can I tell you what it is? No, not with any certainty. Maybe it’s different for everybody. Or maybe it’s the same, yet nothing like any of us think. I guess that mirrors life a bit too, doesn’t it?

So, do you ever think about your mortality?

Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, and sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant.

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