Our uncle died, and we are deciding whether to go to Seattle to be with the family.
Suddenly, the death of our elders is implicating, in a way it wasn’t when I was younger. As my mother said recently, when one of her last more senior relatives died, “Now we’re the old people.” With every passing, the generations shift, and our place in the constellation of relationships loses something and takes on something new.
Already I am counting the years, in a way that has new meaning. It no longer seems like such a boundless amount of time, the likely space of a life. I try to imagine what it is like to be old and to experience all that goes with it. This heightens my appreciation of the graciousness and strength so many elderly people embody.
In an odd way, thinking about death can be comforting, because it’s a hedge against the sense of boundlessness and infinite choice that modern life conveys. Death reminds us of the real boundedness of human existence, reminds us that individualism is not everything. We are all members of a bounded order, anchored in time.