Caution: This column may be a downer but it’s not anything we haven’t thought of.
Blood, Sweat and Tears sang:
I'm not scared of dying And I, don't really care If it's peace you find in dying Well then, let the time be near
If it's peace you find in dying Well then dying time is near....
And when I die, and when I'm gone There'll be, one child born In this world To carry on, to carry on
Last night, I had a dream where I took all of my photos from my life and burned them. Why? Well, we save them for future generations to see the lives we had, and they had. Being a dad who lost his only child, those memories will end when I cross the Rainbow Bridge with my dogs.
Now, if anyone says they never thought of this, they’re lyin’ or denyin’. We’re not about to consider checking out, because people want to grab all the experiences they can. But we do think about it.
I know what you’re saying: ‘Barry, you’re real bummer, man!’ To which I reply, “you’re out of my will!”
I spoke today with my cousin Ira whom I have not seen in nearly 48 years (do the math. I was almost 15). We connected on Facebook and shared stories, memories, the pain of lost connections and the promises of doing a better job of keeping in touch.
When we are gone, we never really know what legacies will live on, what stories will be told and retold and how we will be recalled and remembered. We can only do what we can while we’re still here.
I guess I never thought a lot about what imprint I would leave on people’s lives but I do think about it now…a lot.
The Barry Kluger line begins and ends with me. Yeah, that’s sad, but in a very strange way, it’s freeing. ‘Geez,’ you may say, ‘How can losing your child give you freedom?’
Be quiet. I’ll tell you. We have choices in life when we know we’re the end of direct bloodline. We can say ‘what’s the use of doing anything,’ but that would be restrictive and make us slaves of our situation. We won’t take that trip, take that skydiving jump or take up that hobby we always thought about. What’s the use. The recollection ends with us. Why have an experience if that doesn’t help others?
Well, because you now have two deaths, maybe a third, if you will. The first of the child you loved and then your own death, dying of indifference, apathy, rigidity. It’s not fair to the values you passed on earlier nor the partner you now spend the rest of your days with because that becomes the third.
I choose to live, not merely survive. I owe it to the memory of my daughter, Erica, and to my wife, Hope who signed up for a full life of adventure and excitement. She’s a lawyer and since she’s going to hold me to that contract until I no longer can, I will honor the terms. It’s the least I can do. It’s the most I can do and reflecting on what I have and lost, the only thing I must do.