January 11, 2019

Food for Thought

As you get older and meet more people, you get stretched so thin that the number of times you see each of your friends keeps declining. My friend Gregg had some friends gather at this bar in Greenpoint for his birthday. In the last 10 years, I saw him, maybe, 3 times. It’s quite possible that I’ll only see him, say, 6 more times before one of us die. And, I’d say that’s still a lot compared to most people I know. Over 90% of the people I’ve met in my life, I will likely never see again. At this point, every time I see someone, I should say goodbye as if I’ll never see him again.

But how exactly do we say goodbye for the last time in our lives? I’ve never done it. Some of my friends have passed away but they died unexpectedly, so I didn’t get to say anything. I recently read an article about someone who decided to terminate her own life legally, set a specific date to exit, and invited all her friends to her home the day before. Now, what exactly did these people say to her? Denial of death is such a strong force that our society has no protocols or conventions to deal with this type of situation. “See you in the next life”? Well, we don’t even know if such a thing exist, and even if it did, how would we know when it happens? Perhaps this was already the second time. “See you in heaven”? “You will remain in my heart forever”? These sound so tacky that I couldn’t say them with a straight face. Besides, my life isn’t forever either.

All these examples are trying to imply that we will live forever in one way or another. In other words, even at the very last moment, we still insist on denying death. It’s kind of sad. Why can’t we accept that everything has an ending? I’m not sure why we have such a strong urge to drag it on forever.

Happy birthday, Gregg.