It’s Life

By Lloyd Graff

All this death is killing me.

The list of people with cancer who I care about keeps growing by the day. A friend from high school who was organizing my class reunion was hit by pneumonia and died in a week. Three hurricanes, an earthquake, the Las Vegas massacre, then the wildfires in California incinerating whole neighborhoods. It stinks, all that death out there.

I just “celebrated” (endured) the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur where Jews spend the day fasting and considering who will live and who will die this year. More consideration of death. I hate it.

Maybe my close call with death nine years ago with my heart attack has sharpened my consciousness of the temporariness of life.

This morbid thinking does cut both ways. It can make you feel miserable and totally stuck or it can free you up because you so desperately want to take advantage of the today you have.

My wife is into saving money these days because she is fearful of all of the awful things that could befall her if she lives a long time. After my brush with death, correctly or not, I don’t figure I’ll have to worry about that so much.

For me, the fear of dementia is more of an everyday worry, unlike the longterm fear of death. I’m starting to hear of high school classmates who have spouses with it. It just seems so devastating and heartbreaking to have to endure the condition with a loved one.

What is the antidote to these depressing feelings? For me, it is work, writing, exercise and love. Creating, giving of myself—I don’t know if it pushes off the inevitable, but it sure is more fun than constantly contemplating my own death or somebody else’s who I love or care about.

As I am writing this piece, I keep circling back to the importance of my work to me as a vehicle for creativity. The element of chance in assessing the value of flawed aging pieces of machinery provides riskiness every day, but when there is no risk there is little reward. Risk carries the companion of validation and fun. Arguing about a deal with Noah and my associate, Rex, keeps my juices flowing. Being wrong in business means I lose money. It’s not life and death. It’s just life.

Question: Would you rather die at age 80 knowing you would be in perfect health until then, or potentially live longer with no health guarantees?

George on Death, Seinfeld

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12 thoughts on “It’s Life

  1. Art Santana

    Thinking about a choice like that can also put you on a depression trail. Everyone has a different load, you may go out from a heart attack, a wildfire, a crazy lunatic or a terrorist attack. No one has a secure path. Thank you captain obvious! Right? Heck, my neighbor did not wake up Sunday morning and he was only 37 years old, perfect health.
    With all this bad going around our times, there is still a lot of good and beautiful things happening, So if you happen to wake up in the morning, thank the supreme being for another opportunity to try to find happiness and if you make it till the end of the night, just ask for the strength to try again tomorrow. Maybe is not such a horrible world but if we refocus, it can still be a wonderful world for however long we have. Cheers!

  2. Mindy Mikami

    I remember when I was in the 4th grade, our teacher asked us what we thought we would be doing in the year 2000. I remember thinking, “Holy crap! I’ll probably be dead by then! I’ll be 39 years old!” So, back when I was 8, 80 sounded like FOREVER! Now that I’m 56 and am starting to see my son, nieces and nephews start their own families, 80 doesn’t seem like long enough. I want to stick around and see how it all works out. I think for now I’ll just work on waking up just one more day (and then the next, and the next, and…).

    Thanks for making us think, as always! And we need you to live until AT LEAST 100!!

  3. Valerie

    My biggest fear is running up a huge hospital bill before I die and not having anything left to leave my children. If I could make it until 80 and be in perfect health I would most certainly take it!

    1. Just another Canuck

      Just imagine a life where you never had to worry about running up a huge hospital bill, or a hospital bill of any kind? There is a question to ask your federal government.

  4. Dick Crosby

    Turned 85 on 9-18. Doc sez I’m in pretty good shape for the shape I’m in. Wife is 73.
    She prays I’ll die before she does. I agree! Hate the thought of outliving her.
    Like a little boy, am very dependent on her. We’re a hell-of-a-team, and I don’t want to go it alone. I tell people I belong to her. So far, life has been good. Been a good
    trip. The big guy can call when he wants too, & the kids can clean up the mess.
    Thank God for the decision to start this business 42 years ago. It’s my blessing, not my curse! I’d go nuts without having stuff to do with & for WINN/DIXI. Peace!

  5. Kim

    If it was a choice I’d definitely say live to 80 and be healthy. At 57 with a known degenerative genetic disease, I make choices every day to help ensure that I’ll be healthy and off of any medication. Eating a mostly Paleo, organic diet, staying hydrated with filtered water, minimizing the use of toxic chemicals in and around my house, taking supplements and staying active.

  6. Seth Emerson

    20 years ago, after my parents died in their late 60s, I might have picked 80. Having just turned 70, and in reasonably good health, I am kind-of leaning the other way. . .

  7. Dave Bradley

    About 2 years ago, I went looking for my best friend in high school (almost 50 years ago). He went to the military at graduation, when he got out I was a GE Apprentice with 2 kids, and he was all about finding his place in this world. We didn’t seem to have in common. We briefly touched bases in 1985, but still didn’t any cause to re-connect. So what I found 2 years ago, was his obit. He died about 2 months before. Kinda rattled me. Ran into another high school friend a couple days later and told him about the other guy. So I asked him if he’d like to get breakfast some morning and shoot the breeze. He and I started inviting other classmates and the group has grown to 65 just by word of mouth. We fill up an Arby’s and they are glad to have us. We meet every Thursday for about 3 hours and have followers all over the country that read our FB page to see what we talked about. Some ole fart even learned how to do FB just so he could read about the gathering once a week. We find we all have issues of some sort or another. But it really eases the pain of getting older. We share information on cheap vacations, medicare pitfalls, social security issues, and the like. Most of all we laugh a lot. It’s pretty good medicine to keep you young at heart.

  8. KimB

    I’m still young enough live a relatively healthy lifestyle that I’d rather take my chances. My grandmother lived to 99, though my grandfather died at 50. Eighty used to sound old, but my father’s 77, so I don’t think it’s so old anymore. It’s definitely too young to go.

  9. Grimstod

    At the rate with which life expectancy is increasing my generation should live to 110 on average. 80 sounds young. So I guess that depends. 😉


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