As my family approaches the one year anniversary of my Aunt’s stepping through the veil into Eternity, my thoughts go to matters of living and dying.
My contemplation of the subject was made more vivid last week, as the kids and I drove to piano lessons and saw the soldier lying on the pavement by the side of the road.
He wore a helmet and reflective vest over his uniform.
Time seemed to slow down as we passed the scene. Several vehicles were pulled onto the shoulder: Germans with hands covering their faces; people with arms around each other; and a group of soldiers huddled near their shuttle van.
Not half a mile later, the ambulance passed by, lights on, siren off.
It is one thing for a soldier to risk his life in a combat zone, but to perish on a sunny hill in the German countryside–the idea is jarring.
There are countries where women die in childbirth; where children die from lack of medical care; where men die from famine; where, as the cold saying goes, life is cheap.
In the Western World, death, for the most part, is neatly tucked away into sterile corridors; hidden beneath the hum of tubes and electronics and machinery. We are insulated, to an extent, from the harsh reality of it.
Death is shocking–and it should be. What a world we live in, where people must harden themselves to withstand the apparent cheapness of life.
It makes me wonder how many times a heart is re-broken before numbness sets in. And would I become numb to it too, if I were in a different situation?
Sitting here watching the long-setting May sun and listening to the birds call to each other from darkening trees, I think of my ever-cheerful, witty, intense Aunt Kathy and miss her.
And though my heart aches for the family and friends of the soldier who perished, I find myself thankful that I have feelings and emotions left to spend on fellow human beings.
May it always be that my heart remains a place where life has value.
I wish it could be so for everyone.