Thursday, August 11, 2011

Castles Made of Sand: A Spider's Story

I was watching in awe a reddish garden spider, perched cunningly in the middle of his web on the front porch of my house this morning, presumably waiting for his breakfast, when "whoosh" both he and his web were gone! A bird got him.

I am reminded of Life's brevity. Here one moment, gone the next. Doesn't seem fair. You go to all the trouble to build up a life of security around you and it is obliterated in seconds.

My grand daughter called this morning to tell me of the horrible beating of a man in the apartment below hers. She woke up to a scuffle and shouts and went outside to find a man pale, and standing in his doorway covered in blood; he had apparently been beaten with a hammer. A crowd of people gathered to stare. No one did anything. Finally, she applied a towel to his head to stop the bleeding. Though the man had been rude, even mean to her and her roommate, she saw no reason not to help.

She is shaken. Her false sense of security has been stolen from her.

There is little relief in the thought that we are all in it together, insects, animals and humans, in the locked jaws of fleeting Life. A breath away from our own death. I have often wondered how and when I will die and whether it is ultimately a blessing that we don't know the answer. All we know is this moment.

I want to go (since I must) in my sleep of natural causes. Maybe in the middle of a pleasant dream. Recently, my wife spent a week in the hospital as a result of Pancreatic pain. Next to us was an Asian patient, a mother, with a big family. Often 6 or more visitors at a time crowded inside the room. They often stayed beyond normal visiting hours and were noisy. They irritated my wife, who was in intense pain, and I.

One night about 2 AM when they were particularly noisy and crowded all the way into the hallway, I stepped outside to ask them to please be quiet. They quieted down for a short while, then the noise resumed. When the night nurse came in to check my wife's vitals some time later, I complained to her. "I know", she said sympathetically, "but the mother just died." I felt embarrassed.

The next day, I stood outside the room and looked at the empty bed. She was gone, just like that.

A couple of nights later about 3 AM, as the night nurse attended to my wife, she accidentally set off the Code Blue alarm which is initiated when a patient is dead or dying, and the alert sounded up and down the halls on loudspeakers: "Code Blue, Room 1425", "Code Blue Room 1425" over and over. Medics and doctors came running into my wife's room! "I'm sorry, I'm sorry", the nurse pleaded with the entourage, "I set off the alarm accidentally."

So this is what the end feels like? The moral of the story I guess is: don't lavish too much time building up your web.