Mortality after the break…


A few days ago, a fellow employee at the place where I work finally succumbed from complications of brain cancer. I hardly knew him. I had only spoken to him a few times.

It’s hard entering the era where aches and pains don’t go away automatically. Getting tired more frequently? Drinking a bit more water then usual? In your youth, you never even thought about it. Now, though… Maybe it’s something else. Maybe it’s something… Serious. Or maybe it’s still nothing at all. Maybe you’re just thirsty. Maybe you just need more sleep.

There was a time when only “old people” died… You know, people in their 30s and 40s. Times change, though. The people who start dying begin to start to be the same age as yourself and they start dying of “natural causes.” When young people die, it’s usually something stupid – Drug overdose, driving too fast on a road… They caused, in part, their death.

Not anymore. Not when you get older. When you get older, all it takes is some cell in your body to make a mistake. Then another mistake. Then those cells start repeating that mistake over and over and over and over again until… Well… Until the mistake becomes so long that it really interferes with the body and shuts it down for good.

We don’t live in the era of perpetual life. Even if you live a healthy life from start to finish, there’s always a finish. There’s always a downward slope. Sometimes that downward slope is incredibly gentle. Other times, that downward slope is a sudden and straight drop-off.

It’s a scary world when you begin to reach the age when people die “just because.” Not because of an auto accident. Not because of a drug overdose. Not because of suicide or homicide or because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I’d like to think that I have few more decades before that downward slope really begins to sharply angle downward… But you never know. All it takes is to wake up one morning not feeling right. A headache that never quite goes away. A knee injury that doesn’t quite recover. Discoloration somewhere that just keeps growing. Increased forgetfulness. Blurry vision that doesn’t get better.

We live in a world where we like to research weapons rather then research diseases and illnesses. A lot of people don’t care one way or the other until they’re forced to go to the doctor because their back pain hasn’t gone away in a week or because that shortness of breath keeps getting worse.

The world is currently pointing a lot of guns and missiles at each other because, you know… “Hannibal is at the Gates.” Or so we think. That’s how we’re told that we need to think. Lock the doors at night. Shut the curtains. Be wary of strangers taking pictures “just because.”

No offense, but maybe it’s time we got rid of some of those guns and missiles and started pointing more microscopes at diseases and illnesses instead. Maybe it’s time to recruit scientists instead of soldiers. Perhaps we could declare a global war on disease instead of each other. After all, lung cancer doesn’t care if you’re Russian, Chinese or American.

A part of me envies the youth. They get to go to sleep at night with the odds in their favor. They get to wake up tomorrow. A lot of people don’t have those same odds. Every day, those odds get worse and worse for the average human.

I hardly knew the guy. I only spoke with him a few times. But that could’ve been me. And with each passing day, the odds become greater that it will be. If I live long enough, one day, it will be me.


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