Life is so fragile; happy Thanksgiving

I sat in Starbucks putting the final touches on a gift for T. A woman ran in and in a frenzied, panicked voice, screamed, “Is there a doctor in here? Is there a nurse in here? Is there a doctor in here? Is there a nurse in here? Someone’s been run over!” she said, managing with her words and tone to convey that this wasn’t just a wounded pedestrian.

“Is there a doctor in here? Is there a nurse in here?”

I finished up my work as a crowd gathered on the street outside. I packed up my stuff and walked out, trying not look to my right, where the crowd was gathering. I knew that what I saw would be bad.

Two police officers had arrived, and the siren of an ambulance could be heard approaching. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an unmistakably lifeless person lying on the street, blood trailing from his legs. I tried to look away but I couldn’t.

How did I know he was dead, instantly? Somehow, I could see, even from 20 yards, that his chest wasn’t moving, he wasn’t breathing. In some sort of intuitive, pre-conscious way, even before I processed what I saw, I knew he was dead.

The line separating life from death is so thin.

I always forget this. I imagine, somehow, that life is something permanent – something to which I’m entitled. Each moment of life is a gift. If I don’t live that way I squander it.

Some people never contemplate their mortality. Others do so morbidly, constantly.

When I think of sex, when I have sex, what I’m doing is asserting that I’m alive. Somehow, my endless enthusiasm about sex is about my hunger for life, it’s an assertion of vitality.

Today, two days before the (American) holiday dedicated to this purpose, I’m grateful to be alive, but I mourn those taken from us. I’m thinking of them, of their loss, in not living. And of us, of our loss, in losing them.

And even more, of all of our great good fortune, even to have just this one more breath, today.

Happy Thanksgiving.


  1. I saw a man hit full on by a car a few months ago. It stayed with me, kept me from sleeping. A few days ago I almost hit a pedestrian crossing a street in the dark, wearing a long dark coat. S/he was all but invisible. It scarred me, deeply.

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