A Measured Perspective

I did not sleep well the night before and I was in a funk upon awakening. I attributed this unusual occurrence to the full moon and just went about my day. During my morning walk on the beach, I realized today is the day my mom died, one year ago. My body must have realized this earlier but it took a while to reach my conscious mind. How do I celebrate the life of the person who gave me existence?

Three of the people I love most in this world are gone. Those who remain are alive and well, and I am ever so grateful for their presence on this sphere. My brother and I are the only remaining kids from the neighborhood where we grew up. Frankie died of aids. The twins, Ronald and Raymond, were shot in the back of their heads, gangland style, in a drug deal gone astray. Donald was killed in Viet Nam. Scrappy and Skip died of cancer. The rest no longer breathe for a myriad of reasons but are still remembered as childhood friends.

On the one year anniversary of Kathleen’s death, I filled balloons with notes that said, “I Love You,” and sent them into the sky. If anyone found them, I hope in that moment they felt loved. For Arne’s anniversary I painted a picture of a flower in as close to his artistic style as I could. It was nowhere near the beauty he created with paint and brush but I know the effort was appreciated.

For mom’s moment of remembrance all I could do was cry. I was invited to a get together yesterday afternoon but did not want to be around people. I mourned in solitude. Felice, the neighborhood dog, tried to comfort me and stayed at my side most of the afternoon, but there was no consolation for the grief I felt. New tears would follow the old almost without interruption. I could not turn them off. They flowed on their own, a gift of remembrance for my mom.

I can only remember those who have passed before me, but how do I put my own life into perspective? A friend recently shared an idea. “Use a measuring type to measure how long you have to live.” According to the Bureau of Statistics, as a Black American male my life expectancy is 71.2 years. (WM 75.1, WF 81.2, BF 77.5) At almost 70 years of age I have approximately one and a half inches of life left. I know it is just an average as dad lived to 93 and mom to 87, but it does provide a reference point.

Looking back, I am amazed with how quickly nine-tenths of my life has passed, but one inch give or take, still remains. It is only a reference point but it does serve as a visual perspective of what life in terms of inches may lay ahead. How many inches are left in your life?

Think about it.