That sad news reinforced what I wrote the next day to thank everyone — I have much to be grateful for, yet there is a relentless sense of urgency to live the rest of my years in a deliberate, meaningful way.
One of my friends, a wonderful writer in his mid-50s, messaged me and wanted me to dig deeper, to explain what I meant. I’ve been drafting a response. Here’s part of it:
On the drive to pay respects to my friend’s mom, I thought back to the last time I had been at that funeral home, when my former basketball and football coach died. I thought it had been two, maybe three years ago. I looked up his obit the next day and it said he died six years ago, but there’s no way . . .
The route to the funeral home took me past the gas station where I worked in high school. Gas was 37 cents a gallon, and I made $2 an hour as a pump jockey — a 40-hour week netted $64.22 after taxes. The calendar says that was 40 years ago, but there’s no way . . .
Seeing my childhood friend and his brothers was a bit surreal, especially at their mom’s calling hours. But I took comfort in telling them — and their dad — the great memories I had of hanging out at their house as a kid. The calendar says that was 45 years ago, but there’s no way . . .
I’m not in denial, really. I know how to add, and the numbers don’t lie.
I figure I have 10 years, 20 if I’m lucky, to accomplish all I’d like to. Each year goes by faster than the one before.
The urgency, the need to live deliberately, gnaws at me every day.
It’s tempting to sell off most of my possessions and head west to make a go of it — as a freelance writer/editor, as an advocate for the homeless, as a mentor, as an aging distance runner, as a . . . I don’t know.
Maybe there’s something I haven’t yet discovered or considered.
But the window is closing. Slowly, yes, but it is closing.
Soon after my mom went into a nursing home in 2002, I looked around one day at all the residents and thought, “Is this it? Is this all there is?”
That’s not the last chapter I want to write, not how I want this story to end.