Upon arriving at work yesterday, I learned that a co-worker had passed away over the weekend. Like me, she was in her fifties and suffers from diabetes. Kinda scary. But her health woes go rather far back.
My wife Wendy and I remembered working with her a quarter century ago. She came to Wendy's bridal shower. I found a picture of her in an old wedding album.
While browsing through that album, I came across a few other wedding attendees who have passed on: three of my grandparents, my wife's brother, her mother as well, a photographer, two other co-workers, a cousin . . .
Now we're at the stage in life where our contemporaries as well as their parents are battling heart disease, cancer and other life-threatening diseases that seemed so rare and distant to us not that long ago. It's like the grim reaper is a sniper who has just started picking people off in our neighborhood.
Anyway, I wondered to Wendy recently if any statistician had ever calculated the odds of us even coming to being. I thought of that after the baby robins who grew up in a nest inside our patio (Robin Motherhood) did beat the odds, surviving a neglectful mother to fly off on their own. (I never saw them fly off but I assume it happened)
Taking the scientific theory of an evolutionary tree for each one of us, if any one of thousands of living beings down our distant ancestral line did not live to maturity--a baby biped died at birth or a lemur-like creature was swallowed by a tyrannosaurus rex--then we wouldn't be here today. Right?
So the odds of any one of us existing in time at all must be like the equivalent of winning the Powerball lotto three times in a row. I don't know; I used to ponder such imponderables when I was ten or so. Now I don't bother with such existential mysteries anymore. My brain can't handle it.
Life is not a given. But death is. The best we can do is postpone it as long as we can.