For a variety of reasons, I've been contemplating the end of life just as I inch past the middle of it. I'm not having a morbid attack, really. It's just that friends have been sick--one just having surgery for a cancer proved completely curable--and friends' parents are growing feeble, breaking bones, losing their minds slightly, logic hiding behind the couch with the dust bunnies and the mice.
At dinner recently with my pathologist uncle, my husband asked him why broken hips seem to signify the end of things. My uncle agreed that a broken hip is not, in fact, a tremendously hard thing to recover from. It's not an impossible injury, one that is necessarily devastating.
But how he explained it was that "the body can only handle so much trauma." After 80 to 100 years of being on the planet, a broken hip is just that final assault that the body may not recover from. All sort of slings and arrows have afflicted various systems over the years, and the body says, "No more. Enough already. Time to go."
We just wear out, if we are lucky. If we've managed to survive lo these many years, the many years finally do us in. We eek slightly undermined to the finish line and then finish, often not gracefully but most often worn literally to the bone.
After all this discussion, we went back to our plates of food, but my uncle's explanation resonated with me on so many levels. There is just so much trauma we can handle. There is just so much that we can do here on this earth. We can move around, interact with our loved and not loved ones. We can get sick and recover and get sick again. And maybe recover. We argue and fight and love and hate, and all that boils down to a time when enough is enough.
When is the time, then, that enough is enough? That's the mystery. Often, we don't know. Sometimes, there are clear warnings and definite prognoses, but so often, we are at the whim of a mysterious clock only our bodies can see, and the body doesn't send memos of text or even email. We have to go until we can't go any more. We have to take the trauma until we can't take it any more.
Point is, we have to live until we can't.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org