We Are All Fragile. We Are All Vulnerable to Life.

This week’s bombing in Boston reminds us that our place on earth is temporal.

The horrific news out of Boston represents one of those moments that most of us will remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news. I know I was packing house to move to the Netherlands when news of the Oklahoma City bombing flashed on the television screen in April of 1995… I remember my wife’s call early one morning on 9/11/01 telling me that something horrific was taking place in New York.  This week I was sitting at my desk when a colleague spread the news through the office.

Already, the media are exploiting the news and hunting for ratings: do we really need to watch an interview with a janitor asking him how much blood he had to clean up? I think the average person could figure it was a lot. In fact, too much. Each drop of it senselessly wasted.

But there is another lesson in all of this. We are reminded that we are all human and all vulnerable to the unexpected and often unwelcome currents of life. No one went to Boston imagining that they would either die or forever be injured on Monday. But the unexpected indeed happened.

None of us cancer patients–or others with a possibly fatal disease–ever expected to be diagnosed. But we were.

Sure, having a potentially fatal disease makes us see our possible end with more clarity. As humans we are very good at denying our final act will eventually come. But in many ways, we are no different than those who are met with sudden death by accident, terror or biological event. The only difference is that we are given time to ponder our possible demise. Whether one sees that as a blessing or a curse is a matter of personal opinion. Like all our fellow beings on Earth, we understand our time will come. We are just given notice that it might come sooner than later.

Random thoughts at a sad time.

My prayers to all the victims, survivors and families affected by Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon.

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4 Responses to “We Are All Fragile. We Are All Vulnerable to Life.”

  1. Well said, Dan. Even baby boomers that deny aging, disease or death applies to them are still mortal. We advanced cancer folks are simply better informed of the reality and probable cause of our mortality.

    Back Bay was my neighborhood between 1999 and 2003, and to see blood on the Boylston Street sidewalk I have trod hundreds of times since my days as an MIT undergraduate in the 1960’s was shocking. Every camera angle and every piece of video tape simply revealed more familiar territory that I will never be able to see the same way again.

    Life is defined by the unexpected. Whether a pronouncement by your doctor that “you have a nasty cancer,” or simply standing on a sidewalk and cheering on a member of your family. “Carpe diem” may be a cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true.


  2. Mary Ellen Zenka Reply April 18, 2013 at 3:21 am

    Well said Dan. The best we can all hope for is to have somebody we know and trust and love to stay by our side, and to hold us as we leave this life.
    Your loving wife, ME

  3. Your wife summed it up-MK

  4. Dan, you’ve got a helluva wife! Hope things are continuing positively for you.