Friday, February 8, 2008

NPR - Life in the fine print

A friend sent an e-mail saying that the wife of a cousin was killed in the recent tornadoes that struck from Arkansas to Tennessee. The cousin lived in Alabama and his wife was one of the 55 people killed in the storms or from injuries. His wife was struck in the head by flying debris, was in a coma, and passed away during the night after surgery. In an instant, the man lost his home and his wife.

I've always believed in the randomness of life, our individual life lost in the numbers of the on-going events and life of the world. For much of life we exist because the randomness of things didn't find us, and then in an instant, it happens. And we're either the one who died or the survivor wondering what the hell happened. And we become a number or a line in a news article, and eventually perhaps an obituary.

Very few people are important or do significant things that merit more than being lost in the fine print of life. Almost all of us leave with just a short reminder, if that, of our existence, and perhaps mention of those we left and loved. And maybe a short description of what befell us, some disease, accident or event, and what type of life we had, we we did, accomplished or left as a reminder. How do you summarize a life?

I don't know. I don't know what my friend's cousin is wondering. God knows the enormity of what's ahead for him from a few minutes in his life. Everything is different and everything ahead a struggle. And everything behind a memory with little to hold for it, except in his heart and mind. Somehow, in the end, that's all we have anyway. Belongings are just reminders. Only those we love are real.

I've always rememebered the stories about friends who died, but now I know when I read the newspaper about such events to take a little time to think about those that perished and those they left behind. It's continuous in the world today, but it doesn't mean we can't think about the reality of it. Because some day all of us will be the life in the fine print.

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