As I pulled into the downtown parking structure where I work, I couldn’t help but notice several police cars, police tape and reporters everywhere.
Scattered along the streets, the front steps and sidewalk of Company X, stood onlookers. There weren’t droves of them, but enough to realize something serious had happened.
As I handed over my valet key to the parking guy, he told me that one of window washers fell fatally to his death this morning. I was shocked. He fell from one of the six-story buildings on our campus here in Portland.
I stopped and looked up at the building. The ropes lay silently against the rain-soaked building. Ropes that we’ve all seen hold a man’s life in the balance every day were vacant. At the foot of the ropes in the foliage that surrounds the building lie a man’s body sheltered with yellow plastic.
Authority figures gathered in clusters, talking. OSHA was present, Policemen guarded the young window washer’s body, and the coroner had arrived.
Reporters hungry for a story moved from spot to spot searching for the best angle. They felt like a nuisance to me. This situation had nothing to do with me, yet I was pissed off and wanted them to back off. I worried that this young man’s family had not been contacted.
Death penetrated the area much the same way rain had soaked our streets all morning. It was everywhere and there was no avoiding it. There was no crack in the darkness.
Hot Toddy and I pulled into the parking structure at the same time. We stood there in shock talking about it.
This young guy whose face we all know, got up for work this morning thinking it was just another day. He probably drug his ass out of bed wishing he could have slept a little longer just like all the rest of us do. He was going to work to do a job that he had done hundreds of times before and just like that his life ended.
We spoke of how awful it would be to fall to your death. We talked about those last seconds of your life spent praying to your higher power. We wondered what his last thoughts were and know that fear had to have completely saturated him.
Was this his destiny today? What would have happened if he had hit the snooze just one more time? Would it have truly offset the chain of events that comprised his life today? Did he see his life flash before him? Did he have time to tell his wife that he loved her as he fell?
I’ve always kind of believed that a person’s spirit is only supposed to be as old as they are when they die. To keep someone alive or dodge death changes your course. Perhaps it’s because of my belief system that our lives are like a spiral that is small at the base and gets larger as you progress in the outward motion of the spiral. The spiral begins when we are born and you travel through your life in this existence to a certain point on the spiral. When your life here ends, you’re reincarnated and pick up your life at that same place on the spiral and progress a little farther. You repeat this process until you’ve gotten everything out of it you are supposed to.
I know many of you may think it’s a lot of hocus pocus… more Pagan mumbo jumbo. But it’s my thought process. To think one is restricted to only *this* lifetime is far too limiting to buy into for me.
This young man’s death this morning has affected me a great deal.
The most basic of reasons is that he is still here. His spirit isn’t released. I can still feel him here. His presence is strong. This is one of those times that on the surface I wish I couldn’t feel so much energy from people. Conversely, I am blessed because I have this ability.
Today I have been reminded of how precious life is. And how short it is. It could end tomorrow for any of us. If one could truly live each day of your life like it’s your last imagine how enriched your life would be. You’d live each day doing that which is truly important to you. Your life would be full and never lacking.
You’d love who you wanted to – regardless of age or race or sex and do so knowing you were being true to your heart. You’d see sharing love as a true gift not to be taken for granted.
You’d realize that argument you had with that person who means so much to you was unnecessary and you could have communicated your point without heated words. Or you could have taken a breath and let them speak their heart knowing that always being the one to be heard isn’t the most important thing.
You’d understand though compromising can really suck, it’s all give and take and somehow it always works out.
You’d feel every kiss you’re given. You’d no longer throw a quick peck on the lips of your Significant Other prior to blasting out the door to run off to work or the grocery store or the gym. Instead you’d take the five seconds it takes to really kiss them and tell them I Love You in a tone that conveys you truly do.
Each touch and every embrace would remind you how blessed you are in your life.
You’d realize the time for healing is now.
You’d be reminded that you are dealt a hand of cards when you are born (each card representing the big events in your life) and you can choose to hold those cards in your hand your entire life or you can choose to throw down the cards that burden you and pick up new ones.
You’d understand how holding onto the past keeps you there and that you can’t move forward without letting some things go.
You’d live your life with conviction and sincerity and passion.
You’d take a breath every time your kid drives you crazy and imagine for a second your world without that little life that depends so wholly on you and perhaps take a gentler path in dealing with him or her.
You’d let down your walls and open your heart.
You’d take a look at the world and the path it’s on and realize though it’s on a difficult path of destruction, we still have each other and are stronger when together than we are when we’re apart.
Or just maybe we could seize this opportunity right now to stop living our lives on the fast track and take time to really live. Though we may not have the means monetarily to live our lives as though each day is our last, we can do so on an emotional level and be thankful. Perhaps start telling your friends that you love them before you hang up the phone. Take the time to listen when someone is speaking to you and needs your help. Just start being the loving, decent people we are meant to be.
I know that if my life ended tomorrow, the people in my life would know where they stood with me. Auburn Aries would know unequivocally that I loved her more than life itself and that she is every part of me. She knows that I live inside of her every second of every day.
There are things I will think about a little differently having been reminded today how short life is. I am in no way perfect. But I would die knowing I’m okay and right with the world. And there’s a lot of peace in that.