The Circle of Life

November 16, 2017

The Joy of Parents
is preparing
their children
for Life.

The Pain of Children
is preparing
their parents
for Death.

 

I.

These words I wrote
three months ago,
after helping my mother navigate
an uncharacteristic
moment of fear:

I had accidently let three moths
into her house
on a steamy August night,
while she was talking to her sister
on the phone.

So unnerved was she
that she abruptly ended the call,
and enlisted me—
the child who used to run away
from butterflies—to get rid of these moths!

Mom turned off the lights
in the kitchen and dining room,
while I turned down the living room light.

Then, she turned on the front porch light
to lure the moths to the screen door.

One moth took the bait,
landing on the screen.
I carefully opened the screen door
while closing the main the door
behind me.

The moth flew away.

Back inside,
I stared
as Mom,
reaching for something
on the darkened dining room table,
suddenly flinched away from the second moth,
which had landed on her outstretched hand.

The moth flew into the living room,
landing on the wall near the dim lamp.

I rolled up a newspaper page,
smashed the moth,
then wiped the detritus
from the wall
with a handy paper towel.

The third moth was
a ghost, unseen
and never found.

II.

Today—on the 48th anniversary
of my grandfather’s (Mom’s father’s) death—
Mom and I
paid our respects
for the passing
of one my Dad’s
beloved cousins—
the 9th of his aunt’s 12 children
(only 3 remain alive),
now joined with him
in Heaven.

The priest who delivered the homily
proved both the lie and the truth
of my pronouncement
on parents and children,
Life and Death.

First, the priest reminded us
that our physical life
on this Earth
is finite—
there is a time to be born,
a time to live,
and a time to die.

And from the moment we are born,
we are already dying.

He likened our time on Earth
to the hours on a clock:

those of us in our 60s
are already at 9:00 PM
on the clock of Life;
those 70 and older,
closer to midnight,
as our average lifespan
is only 70 years,
though some live longer,
and some shorter.

III.

Finally, the priest reminded us
that Death is the end of life—
As we know it!

The physical life
is finite, but
our spirits are eternal.

Birth, Death, Rebirth:

This is

The Circle of Life.


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