Last night I lay in bed and listened to an interview Nora Ephron gave to NPR 2 years ago. She talked about not knowing what meal would be your last, how more and more people were getting sick and dying - and it was inevitable that, at some point, you would be next.
And I cried.
I have to confess, I've been crying a lot these days. Changes - from minor bumps and adjustments to ground shaking, mind-altering "oh fuck" moments - have been presenting themselves fast and furious. It has not helped that I have been reminded over and over and over again of my own mortality.
It's not that I want to play ostrich or that I was surprised or taken aback by the realization that I was going to die (eventually) but it was a nudge. Seize the day, don't sweat the small stuff, do what you love, spend time with those you care about, tell people they are important to you, show appreciation, etc. etc.
Don't waste a moment. And always order exactly what you want on the menu.
I had a huge revelation about this fact last week, actually. The little voice in my head, as I sat there debating whether I should splurge and spend the extra $10 on the steak I really wanted, said "Ten dollars isn't going to break you. If you can't afford what you really want on this menu, you shouldn't be eating here." Point taken. I got the steak. And I enjoyed every single bite, instead of worrying about it or feeling guilty.
I'm tired of feeling guilty, or doing things because other people think I should.
So I shaved the side of my head yesterday during a hair appointment where I was supposed to be getting a trim, in a burst of joie de vivre. I have no idea why I did this, but I also have no regrets. It's refreshing. You should try it. I'll help - I have clippers.
It didn't change anything. I'm still going to die eventually - and so will you, by the way.
In case you forgot.
Nora Ephron's passing was hard to comprehend because not only is her catalog a huge source of inspiration in my writing, but also because I was totally shocked to see that she was 71 years old. How could that be? I just didn't realize, I guess. Her writing was so timeless that it doesn't seem dated - so you forget that some of my favorite stuff was written when I was in diapers and underoos. And then I read that she died from leukemia. Fucking cancer.
Seriously. Fucking. Cancer. How is it that we haven't eliminated cancer yet? It boggles my mind. You know what else boggles my mind? People who are young and otherwise healthy who die of cancer while some 80 year old down the street smokes two packs a day, eats crap, drinks like a fish and is still doing JUST FINE thank you very much.
Cancer is a stupid bastard.
I know this is true because earlier this month, a woman I knew in high school died - she was younger than I am, and the mother of two children. She was the second friend from high school in as many years to die from cancer. I read the obituaries in stunned silence, stared at their senior portraits, watched as friends supported each other on Facebook when they learned of their passing. And all I could think was: Fucking cancer.
I guess as we get older, we will say good bye to more and more people we know, love, respect, and can't imagine living without. I hope that every time I hear of another death, I have a strong reaction to it. I don't want to get used to losing people. I want every death to remind me - and everyone else - that life is short. I want to remember every time I see an ambulance, or a hearse, or a backhoe at the cemetery, that we need to enjoy life today - live it, respect it, and appreciate it as the gift that it is.
So here is my vow, at the beginning of this beautiful summer day:
I promise to let go of the bad and embrace the good.
I promise to stop and smell the roses.
I promise to appreciate all that I have, and stop worrying about the future.
I promise to be kind, and to think before speaking.
I promise to stand up for myself, and for others.
I promise to trust my gut instincts.
And I promise to remind myself from time to time that every breath is a gift, and every moment is fleeting.
I am glad you are here. I am glad *I* am here. I appreciate you, and I am excited about tomorrow - and all the tomorrows to come.
19 minutes ago