Wednesday, October 12, 2011

On Life & Death

Perhaps by the time you read this diary, I will already be back in my cozy air-conditioned condo, enjoying a late night bubble bath and cup of green tea. It can be incredibly easy sometimes to insulate oneself from the brutal reality of the outside world... But for only so long. At some point, reality finds a way to disrupt one's insulated fantasyland. That's what's happened to me in the last month.

As I write this now, one of my aunts is changing the TV channel to get the latest updates on a mass shooting in a Seal Beach salon (not far from my dad's house, at least nine were shot and six killed). My grandmother sometimes remembers to eat, but other times won't eat as she closes her eyes and slouches on the side of the living room sofa. On Monday, my dad and I barely missed a car accident in Costa Mesa. And this morning, my dad was flipping out over his cousin just undergoing an open bypass surgery after barely surviving a heart attack (and she's still in the ICU now).

What's happening? Why does it feel like death surrounds me? It's hard to avoid depression when there's so much to be depressed about.

But then, there's this:

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And this:

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And I'm reminded of the strange sense of perfect zen calm I could always tap into here on the majestic Orange Coast. I enjoyed the best Italian lunch I've had in a long time in Laguna, and I noshed on pizza while seeing the surfers do their magic in Huntington. My dad and I experienced the start of the perfect sunset, as well as the departure of the perplexing marine layer. The Pacific Ocean really gives this place life, and I could notice this at every glimpse of the amazing coastline here.

It's been a strange juxtaposition. The climate and scenery feel like paradise, but the human suffering here has amounted to hell at times. I remember to smile when I see the sea gulls marching under the pier, then I return to my dad's house to see certain ungrateful relatives neglecting my ailing grandmother yet again. What a strange juxtaposition this is.

In this last week, I've had to confront some facts about my own life. After all, I'm not getting any younger. What am I doing? Have I been living successfully? What happens when my last remaining grandparent is gone? How will my father survive this? And what will happen to the tenuous bonds that barely hold my father's side of the family together? Are they already killing themselves? And are they even killing themselves softly?

This last Southern California Sojourn has left me with many mixed feelings, and it's made me rethink what I thought I knew about life and death. Who would have thought losing my grandmother would cause all this?

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