The Probability of Loss Never Decreases, But That's Okay
"I thought my card was punched," she whispered bashfully after receiving some, yet again, terrible news.
"I thought because my mom died young that I wouldn't have to."
Life, unfortunately, doesn't work that way she soon learned. There's no cap on the amount of pain, adversity, loss, and suffering we can be faced with. To believe you live in a world where there is a cap is to have your expectations broken. Time and time again.
For uncertainty and chaos are a fact of life.
My mom died when she was 49. Her mom--my grandmother--died when she was 50.
My grandmother was no stranger to early suffering either. She lost her dad and brothers when she was 12 years old. They were knocked off a bridge by a drunk driver, or so I've been told.
I share these facts for a few reasons.
First, we can't fall trap into believing that suffering ends. Living in a conditional future where there are no problems is fake hope. It's unrealistic and sets us up for heartbreak.
Second, this doesn't mean we need to scrap the optimism. It just means we need to find a way to be happy now and to make ourselves, as author Nassim Taleb calls it, "antifragile." We need to get better every time we are faced with a challenge and enjoy the process because life is short. Ours might be very short.
And third, I believe we inherit, not only the genetics and traits of our close ancestors but their pain and suffering, too. In addition, we also inherit their triumphs, learnings, and successes. We inherit, at an almost cellular level, whatever imprint they've left.
My life is the way it is because my grandmother died young and because my mom died young.
If I ever have a daughter, she won't know her grandmother. She won't get to receive one of her bone-crushing hugs or be spoiled by her on holidays. She won't know what I know--that her grandmother was, quite literally, one of the best people to ever live.
But she will know like I do that suffering breeds compassion. That adversity is an opportunity. That the holes we feel in our hearts aren't meant to be filled. That it's okay to die, but it's important to live well first. That it's okay to cry because it's okay to love. That life is painfully short. That there is no end to a person's impact after death. That running is good for the soul. That grit, compassion, and goodness are traits to always aspire towards.
And she will know all this, not because of me, but because of the two generations of women whose lives were cut short before me. She will know this because of the way they lived and because of the way they died.
For it is these reasons that I am even able to write these words today.