Mortality, for me, is a mere concept. I can't conceive of ever dying. Of course I "know" I am obligated to die, someday. The evidence is all around me. It's in those daily obituaries and, lately, the roundups I've been poring over, which recount all the special people we've lost this past year alone. Most of those who died in 2013 were around my age: 73. I study the entire assortment, add up their ages and average them. Naturally, I am most satisfied when the average age at death in any Obituary Page is closer to 95 than to 85. Of course the untimely deaths of young people, including suicides, brings down the average, so I eliminate those. In fairness, I also eliminate those who died between the ages of 90 to 100 who "suffered from Alzheimer's for a lengthy period." Their minds were gone but their bodies lived on: That, to me, is not really living. That kind of balances my taking out young accident and illness victims and suicide deaths. I make the math work.
When I think seriously about death, a few thoughts come to mind. The first is, I really need to give away most of my stuff -- soon. That does weigh heavily on my mind. I am no hoarder. My home, to all appearances, is neat, clean and does not look cluttered. But oh, it is! In every one of the many closets, in every drawer, behind every drape, lurks too much of everything. Even after donating many boxes of excess books, clothing and assorted bric-a-brac to various worthy charities, too much still remains in my three bedroom apartment. Why is it still there? Because I happen to have the room. But most of it has to go. What I don't use, what is stored away, what takes up space, unnecessarily, is taking oxygen out of the room and holding me back -- the future hostage to the past. (By the way, this includes my massive storage bin in the basement, for which I pay a monthly fee. Wasted money: I haven't been down there in a year. Someone just told me that all those unopened paint cans from my apartment painting and renovation three years ago has most likely gone bad. Anyone want enough pricey paint to cover an entire house, top to bottom?)
Someone once said we spend the first half our lives acquiring things and the second half getting rid of all of it. Or, in my case, trying to. OK, at least thinking about it.
So, here's the thing: I met this man recently through Match.com. He is charming, fit, smart, still working at his profession, easy to talk to and seemingly interested, since he asked me out again. Does it matter, more to the point, SHOULD it matter, that chronologically he is 85 years of age? Half my friends say, "Go out with him, play it out, just enjoy." The other half say, "Your husband died at age 86, you went through the pain of that, why get involved with this man and potentially set yourself up for caring for someone and once again losing him?"
Of course this is apples and oranges -- we are, after all, comparing a long-term marriage to a possible second date. But here's the thing: All that is guaranteed to us is this one day. No, this one moment. So just as I hesitated, my dear friend Bobbi Van sent this to me. It is a short video (see below) that is well worth watching. I am telling you that it helped make up my mind about keeping the date, and also cleaning out my excess possessions.
Spoiler alert: After you watch her audition (not before), please read Janey Cutler's full back story, which you can easily find by putting her name into Google. You will also discover what happened to her AFTER she made the finals of "Britain's Got Talent" with her heart-rending rendition of Edith Piaf's "Non Je Regrette Rein."
Love and Happy New Year to YOU.
Comments most welcome.