We all know by now that Tim Russert passed away. He has been rightly lauded and eulogized and will be missed by family and those of us who came to think of him as a part of our “news family.” Russert was someone on whom we could rely for the strait answers and tough questions. But this is about me.
It is about me, because when they first flashed the dates of his life under a smiling picture of Tim Russert, I saw in bold 1950. This is my birth year. And it stunned me. It is the first time I am aware, or acknowledged my birth year in an obituary. Oh yes I saw high school or college friends perish in Vietnam or car crashes, the dangers of youth and war. But this was the first time I had sucked in my breath at someone my exact age who had, as my grandmother would say, “up and died.” This means that a person’s body gives out and they just go, quick and unannounced. And in this case way too young.
I kept thinking about this rub with mortality as I gardened or worked on the benefit for the small opera I am producing, alas the reason I am so infrequently on this blog, operas take a huge amount of care and feeding. So my apologies. But I thought about the idea of life, of all of it, just stopping. Here and then not here.
Of course that is what is supposed to keep us humming and appreciating all that comes with the breathing and beating heart. The sweet, short unknown range of this thing called life is supposed to be cherished because it is so unpredictable. And yet isn’t that one of the things we complain about. All right I bitch about. But I vacillate between deep appreciation and abject depression at the state of my life and the world.
So with Tim Russert’s passing I decided to re-dedicate myself to appreciating my years, both backward and forward. And thus I am off to my 40th high school reunion attempting to leave behind the notion of chubby and underpaid and instead holding on to the concept of verve and love.