I wrote a piece a little more than a year ago entitled “Cold-Hot-Cold.” I chose that title for a number of reasons, but the gist of it was to capture the many nuances of life in a metaphor that had its roots in the very real physical sensations on that cold January day. It was New Year’s Day, a day in which many of my friends and I don our cold-weather gear, fire up our Harleys and go for a ride. Cold day, the warmth of fellowship, of camaraderie and the effects of the adrenaline that always comes with riding, and the coming back to earth.
That day, however, produced much more than just the buzz of our annual ride. And although I am quite sure I would have written about the day’s events, I likely would not have titled the piece as I did. A day that typically holds so much promise, so much optimism and so much hope was muted by the tragic accidental death of a child close to most of us and very close to a few. It left us grappling with the senselessness of it all – it brought new meaning to the cold we felt that day. Although the other factors that produce that special kind of uplift in one’s spirit were still present, they had to be taken in combination with a tragedy that no one could explain.
Fortunately, perhaps, that dichotomy of emotion does not often occur at the same time. Good things or bad things are, I think, best left to be dealt with in isolation if at all possible. Of course, that is not always the case. The same extreme swings of fortune that affected those close to me hit again last weekend. On the very extremes – the result was both life and death, but the continuum was sprinkled liberally with both good and bad fortune and, for many, simultaneously.
On of our friends - one who was an integral part of my friendship network - was admitted to the hospital about a week ago with breathing complications. He passed away Friday night. Cold. I don’t know what the details are, but I do know that when I saw him recently, he was as alive (and animated!) as he always was. He was just fine. That he could fall ill and die just like that is still boggling my mind. It hasn’t yet sunk in. And that’s how it is for me; many of my friends were far closer to Tony than I... I can only imagine how it is for them.
At the same time, my eldest son’s lady was expecting a baby. This was not a surprise, my grandson was due in late May or early June. He decided that he has waited long enough and yesterday he chose to make his entrance into the world. Although he is many weeks premature, he appears to be doing just fine. Weighing in at about 4 ½ pounds and breathing on his own, there appears to be no major complications – he is a healthy baby boy. Hot. His timing, of course, couldn’t be worse as I am about as busy as I can be, but I will make the time to take a trip to Southern California very soon. I have a grandson down there, after all.
Those are the extremes. The cold and the hot. But there are many other important things going on in my life, some affecting me directly and some only because they affect those close to me and all are hot or cold or some variation of the two. I am experiencing all the pressure that grad school promised and all the while the world is doing its thing right along with me… unpredictably, often in a very sad way and sometimes in a joyous celebration, the world is doing what the world does.
And so am I.