Mortality

I was all set to write about my fashion rut or the genetics behind the canker sore in my throat that has plagued me for the past week. But I just read a NYTimes book review featuring a seemingly morbid work entitled ‘Mortality’ by Christopher Hitchens. The title drew me in, because although I’m optimistic about the outcome of my surgery, like anyone else who is waiting for results of a biopsy or some medical test, you naturally question your own mortality. As I read, I felt like I was in high school again. I almost wanted to jot notes in the proverbial margins on the many worthwhile takeaways. Don’t you just hate it when you realize the work you did so begrudgingly as a student was indeed preparing you for life as an adult? (Dad, is that you? How’d you get in my head like that? Are you taking over so that I quote the Times and not Real Housewives? Sneaky.).
The article itself was written so beautifully by a friend of the author. He quoted excerpts from the book which impart knowledge from beyond the grave. The author was diagnosed with cancer shortly after publication of his memoirs, “Hitch-22”. ‘Mortality’ is a collection of “dispatches” he wrote for Vanity Fair over the next 18 months along with an 8th chapter of notes he wrote while succumbing to his disease. The following is my favorite quote from the book: “Another element of my memoir — the stupendous importance of love, friendship and solidarity — has been made immensely more vivid to me by recent experience. I can’t hope to convey the full effect of the embraces and avowals, but I can perhaps offer a crumb of counsel. If there is anybody known to you who might benefit from a letter or a visit, do not on any account postpone the writing or the making of it. The difference made will almost certainly be more than you have calculated.”
Yeah that was long. You still here? Cool. Basically what I like about it is two-fold: don’t live to regret and make sure those you love know you love them. It’s so hard to be there for people in ways that our schedules just don’t allow, but Hitchens makes the point that even a letter or a quick visit (let’s face it, a text message) can mean a lot to a friend in need of support. I have expressed before my desire to be there for my friends. There are just not enough hours in the day to cook for them, visit them without giving them my kids’ germs, or brighten their day in some significant way. When reflecting back on life from the bittersweet end, I know it will be the memories of the relationships I nurtured that will bring me joy. No one seems to look back and say, “I wish I had spent a little more time by myself”.

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