True to my somewhat cynical nature, I tend to consider the darker side of things. When someone says, "What's the worst that can happen?", I'm usually the guy who can answer the question. I'm great at parties. To my credit, I can usually figure out a way to avoid the Worst. A footnote: This is not to say that I have no sense of humour. On the contrary, I chuckle and guffaw on a daily basis - and, in fact, there is no topic in which one cannot find humour - at least in the right company.
So where's this headed? I may in the minority, but the topic of Last Times has invaded my moments of lucid dreaming on more than one occasion. It's usually on those sleepless nights, in the lonely hours, where I ponder about the 'last time' I might do something before I die. Some examples:
When will be the last time I kiss my wife and kids?
When will be the last time I eat in a restaurant?
When will be the last time I am in complete control of myself and my dignity?
When will be the last time I see my beloved DisneyWorld?
You get the picture.
If that isn't morbid enough, I consider whether I would know - or would want to know - when these Last Times occur. Would knowing it's a Last Time be harder on your psyche? Would you do anything differently if you knew it was your Last Time? Do you do anything today with an actual realization that it may well be a Last Time? The excercise always leaves me felling small and melancholy - and I suspect it's all about becoming middle-aged, with a dim understanding that you're not immortal after all.
Things do end. Life is not fair, nor is it unfair. It simply is.
My Dad, all of 64 years old, has been fighting cancer for a little over a year now. We've know for quite awhile that the prognosis is terminal, and we've mentally prepared ourselves for the inevitable conclusion. This past Saturday we took one more final step together and admitted Dad to the Palliative Care Unit at Parkwood. Realistically, we're probably counting time in weeks before the rounds of chemo, radiation, morphine, tumours, pneumonias, and a hundred other Dreads finally collect the price they've sought for these past 15 months.
And then it occurred to me as I thought about the ambulance that took him away on Saturday afternoon. This a Last Time. This is the Last Time he will ever see his home: his own bed, the deck he loved to sit on, the walls he painted, the workbench he built, the turkey dinners he hosted, the once-happy woman he married some twenty-odd years ago.
I've been wondering what he thinks of all this, but I cannot bring myself to ask Dad about Last Times. I think such a question would belie a selfishness in myself - like looking into the eyes of a dying man to catch a glimpse of what lies beyond.
Things do end. Life is not fair, nor is it unfair. But sometimes I wonder.