Fragility of Life

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life? Mary Oliver “The Summer Day”

Nothing brings it closer to home than living in a senior facility, especially one that includes assisted-living. One sees the EMTs or the ambulance arrive and leave again every day. There is nothing that has expanded my feeling of oneness more effectively than living here. What affects one of us really affects all.

I don’t know everyone here and perhaps have not even seen some residents. Some never leave their rooms. When I see the gurney heading for the ambulance. however, I feel compassionate sorrow. I grieve for those friends and family left home. I know the fear of being the patient and also of waiting, and hoping, (especially during the pandemic), unable to know what is going on.

As I build community in PV I also have more gratitude for each day of clarity and relative health. Oh, I don’t minimize my limitations, but in an environment where the scooters, walkers, and canes are almost as plentiful as residents, limitations are taken for granted. The future is not.

The majority of people are pretty upbeat about life, tho. A beautiful day is more of a gift. A call from a son or daughter, or grandchild, or friend, is reason for rejoicing. The question: “How are you today?” Is apt to be answered honestly.

The people who are most grateful and seem to enjoy life still have a purpose. Maybe not a big one. No one is writing a great American novel. No one is making scientific discoveries; their days of research are over. Their purpose may be walking their dog three times a day. Or getting together over lunch with friends. Or coming to the women’s circle and sharing. Maybe keeping a partner safe makes life important. Or finishing a book that has been on their list.

“We’re either going to be the call or get the the call,” my husband and I remind each other when we bemoan the continuous stream of obituaries of people younger than either of us. It is our reminder that life is fragile and death inevitable.

Today we are here.



  1. Hi. A very thought-provoking post as always. I do think of you most every day, and your writing here brings me right into your presence. I’m grateful for that.


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