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"Not every death is the end of a well lived life"

At the hospital where my husband was being treated for cancer, Chemotherapy was administered in a communal room.There were several armchairs for patients, and some regular chairs for family members. The whole process took several hours, and we had to somehow pass the time. So, with everyone around,  it became an opportunity to talk, a kind of spontaneous support group.

One Friday we were only four in the room: my husband and I, another middle-aged man, like us, and a young woman. We started talking, and she told us about her life and her illness. It transpired that she recently had got married and had a small baby.

Suddenly the man, who sat with us, blurted, “ It is so unfair that you are sick, you are so young, and have a baby."

Please keep reading in the Times Of Israel


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A Bit of Luck

I've had friends who witnessed some interesting history.


I know. Bold statement. Who would believe I have friends? Actually, I still have friends. Humans and animals. And I mean friends, not just family or creatures I feed. I can line them up for vetting. They’ll stand up for me, with the right incentives. Money, beer, wine, chocolate, kibble treats, belly rubs, favors, begging, promises. I know how to bribe them.

Back in my military life in the late 80s and early 90s, we often had get-togethers, hanging around at someone's house or a club, comparing life notes. These usually centered around who we knew, what we’ve done, where we’d been. While almost everyone shared unique and interesting tales, one couple told tales of extraordinary luck, with photos. They’d been in the vicinity or had witnessed multiple major accidents and incidents. Challenger disaster, they’d been stationed in the area and were watching the launch when it blew. They were in Japan in the 1980s when the Soviets downed KAL flight 007. (They were also there when the Soviet pilot defected with a MIG.) Thunderbirds augering in en mass, they were at the support base, checking out the Thunderbirds that day. C130 doing a failed low level extrication in an air show, they were there. They'd been trying to get on the C141 that hit the mountain, were there at Paris Air Show when the MIG crashed, and at Ramstein when the Italian aerobatic team had their accident, killing 70 people. They told about being at these events and others, and shared their disaster photo albums of dated Kodak, Polaroid and Fuji testaments, along with newspaper clippings from local papers and Stars and Stripes.

Geez, what luck, we all commented, what are the odds? Talking about odds brought up other tales relating to winning lotteries and SuperBowl tickets, averting death by not getting on flights, surviving tornadoes, hurricanes, and diseases, like cancer.

A new study tells us that cancer and other diseases are mostly a matter of luck. Orna Raz captured my sentiment and I refer you to her column. It’s not a relief to learn, guess what, living badly will not necessarily kill you and living well will not necessarily save you, because it’s still happening. You still have the losses. That doesn’t stop us from searching for a difference. Whenever diseases, disasters and accidents are discussed, we ponder, what could be done differently? How can we save ourselves, evade pain, or stay alive as long as possible? Television shows geared toward surviving disasters have evolved. And guess what? Another article I saw today – on Faceback – claims cancer will kill very few people under the age of 80 by 2050.

So we make slow progress as a society, life by life. Living is a lot safer than it used to be, although people still die. Personally, I’ve witnessed fate’s random strikes among friends and family. Who has not known of people dying of stomach, liver, lung, brain, or pancreatic cancer? My wife, a life-long exercise, health and fitness devotee, has been struck with a series of symptoms that began sixteen years ago. First it was thought to be TMJ, then Lymes Disease and other things. Now it’s believed to be RA. Through it all, she and I questioned, how and why? What could she, the vegetarian exercise monster, have done differently? She rarely drank, didn’t smoke. I've seen her tipsy once. The females on her side lived into their 90s even before the evolution of life prolonging modern health care. Her mother, who doesn’t exercise, smoke or drink is into her mid-eighties. Meanwhile, I smoked pipes and cigars, drank scotch and whiskey, beer and wine, ate bizarre foods in bizarre lands and trudged across toxin ridden zones, made so by military drippings and warfare. Nothing has struck so far. Knock on wood.


So the article confirmed for me what I often suspected, that much of what happens to us is mostly luck, and you can’t always make your own luck. Sometimes it’s just being spun out of the ether of living. 

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