I must confess, I'm feeling pretty damn old these days; and to say I'm feeling a bit mortal would be an understatement. There have been a few of people from my 'younger' days that have passed on as of late; Gary Carter, the catcher I remember from when he played for the New York Mets and Davy Jones from the Monkees to name a couple. But it is not just people that make me feel this way. I will be the first to admit that I have shed a few tears when I read of the passing of those racehorses who have not raced for years for I idolized them in my youth and when they die, I realize the sands of time are slipping away..
Why do I react this way? Because we are not just a body and soul, we are shaped by the events we experience; the memories we recall; the milestones that pass; those little acts of kindness others have performed on our behalf; friendships gained and friendships lost. When we were are young the scale of happy events to come and sad events to come tips heavily in favor of the happy events and as we get older, the scale balances and eventually tips in favor of the sad events to come. This is not a pessimist view; it is life.
This weekend, harness racing has suffered a couple of high profile losses. In Canada, breeder R. Peter Heffering of Tara Hills Stud has passed away at the age of 80 while in the United States, Geoff Stein, of Prefered Marketing passed away suddenly at the age of 58. While I did not personally know either of these two gentlemen, I have not heard anyone speak a bad word about them.
So by now, you are probably wondering where I am going with this. How do you explain when someone does all the right things yet dies far too early and one who does everything wrong lives a long life (I am not suggesting Mr. Heffering falls in this category)? You can't; it is one of the mysteries of life that you never know when your number is up and quite honestly, I wouldn't want to be walking around with an expiration date on the bottom of my foot. All I can say is we need to live life everyday the way we want to be remembered and leave the rest to God, or if you are not religious, to fate.
When a death impacts my life, I often recall a biblical passage which seems to sum things up nicely and it gives me comfort. You don't need to be religious to appreciate what is written. The following comes from Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3:1-8. For those who are old enough to remember 1960's folk music, the words will be familiar:.
A time to be born and a time to die:
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace;
Hopefully, these words will help you put things into perspective. What we are experiencing is life. Sometimes people forget death is a stage of life. As much as we would like to think otherwise, no one gets out of this world alive.
To those who have experienced a death in their family recently, I would like to express my sympathy. May the name of your loved one bring you comfort in the future.