I visited with an old friend over the weekend. I hadn't seen her for seven years. She's sixty-five now, still working because she can't afford to retire yet. Her ex-husband got them into considerable debt, and she's been paying it off. Life's been so stressful she's developed asthma. I could hear her breathing during most of our time together. She looks very very different; in fact, I didn't recognize her at the train station. When it was time to say good-bye, I very impolitically burst into tears!
It wasn't that I think I'll never see her again; it was just the realization that time is very short. On this trip, she could only spare a handful of hours to be with me. And when I go back East, I usually can't spend much more with her. It isn't just that we want to spend time together and there's so little of it: it's that we met when we were young and at the beginning of things. And now we're not.
She introduced my husband to me. I knew her during the very positive phase in my life when I was reconciling with a part of my family. She was moving her life in a very positive direction in terms of her career at that time. She was moving into a whole new phase of things. We share some very good memories. We've stayed in touch with phone calls, brief visits, and a couple of long ones. We stayed with her when Gray's father died. She stayed with us for a week right after we bought our house. We hiked in the Sierra with her on her very first ever backpacking trip. It was so hard to ...
...see her 'old' and infirm.
It made me think of the families of the people who are missing in London, presumed dead. It isn't so much the idea that no one should ever die (a belief held by most of the major religions), but the idea that people are dying before their time. In the midst of life, with people who loved them, depended on them, who may be very very lonely now that they are gone. It's such a ripping out of a part of us when someone close to us dies.
It's not that the deaths in London are 'more important' than the deaths in Iraq, as one blogger wrote in a comment. All of these deaths are deeply disturbing: whether deep down in the underground, or along a roadside: one moment everything is as it always is, just life rolling along, and the next moment something unthinkable has happened.
I knew when we got into this Iraq war thing that there would be a hailstorm of senseless deaths. Didn't other people? We talked about it in this country as if there weren't going to be any deaths. While channel-surfing one night, I came across evangelist Pat Robertson confiding to the tv cameras that he once said to the president, 'you do realize there are going to be casualties, don't you?' That this question needed to be asked is preposterous.
I want to remind blog-readers that close to 50% of the American people did not elect GWB, and did not support this ill-conceived war. He did not have a 'mandate of the people' for this war, as he claims. Also, there are many of us who are ready to shift away from the oil-based economy. This would enable us to disentangle ourselves militarily from the middle east. However, until the owners of those resources can gain control of any new technologies, I'm not expecting to see them become realities. They'll want to hold on to what they've got.
Change is difficult. Witness my feelings about my friend. Witness the feelings of all those who are losing loved ones to violence in these times. A time of grief.