in 2007, …at a peculiar, yet necessary time I was gifted the book On the Shortness of Life by Seneca. “The Stoic writings of the philosopher Seneca, who lived from c. 5 BC to AD 65, offer powerful insights into the art of living, the importance of reason and morality, and continue to provide profound guidance to many through their eloquence, lucidity and timeless wisdom.”
I dove into his words and philosophies, wept like a baby and reflected. The one line of this stoic piece that has always slapped me is
Live immediately? How? but the laundry, and the bills, and the doctor, and the child’s schedule, and balance, and no balance.. life immediately?
We have to… we aren’t guaranteed any tomorrows… none of us.. sick or well, money or not, man or woman… we stand united that the only single thing we will all experience in this life is death.
My world was rocked a little yesterday… my main squeeze was pensive when I picked him up at school… clingier(if that’s a word) than usual… more affectionate in front of 100 other kids than usual…
When he got into he car i asked him how his day was.. it was, “fine.” In case all you middle school parents are wondering how your 11 year old boy’s day was.. it is always , “fine.” I try to ask questions that are pointed and require an explanation instead of a Yes/No, but I fall into the familiar trap.
We discussed upcoming happenings… He has no school on Monday, January 16, 2017 for Martin Luther King Day. He didn’t seem as excited as usual… hmm.. a day off after his 11th birthday party… he’s normally be dancing..
He asked me if I was going to die (we have this conversation a lot and have been trained how to answer it.)—
T- “Yes. Ale. We are all going to die and part of the wonder of the world is that we have no idea when, so it is important to plan and laugh and live.”
A- “But you are just going to die sooner right? What are we going to do without you?”
T-“I am not planning to die today. We have things to do”
A-” When you do die, Tari, Mommy and I will make your death day a celebration every year like we have no school for Martin Luther King Day. You will always be alive for us.”
T- CHOKING on tears. “Do you know something I don’t?”
A- laughs, “No.”
T- “Because today’s a good day. I’m not dying today… or tomorrow for that matter.”
FUCK. FUCK. FUCK.
This kid. I have a life shortening genetic disease. We have been very upfront with him. He knows we all die. He sees me sick, vomiting into garbage cans at local hospitals. Should I be shielding him from all this? I don’t know.. He is empathic and loving. He is smart and loyal. He understands the blessings of health and he sees the darkness of illness.
Seneca suggests we Live Immediately… and I do… every. single. day.