JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Birthdays and death

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Today was my daughter’s 7th birthday party. We had it here at the house. She wanted a spa party, so we broke out the polish and the cucumbers; had pedicures and lip gloss and all that jazz. It was delightful.

About three hours before the shindig kicked off, I took a nap. Midway through, while half-asleep, I had very disturbing thoughts about death; the kind that used to keep me up at nights, pacing. I’m under the sheet, the lights are turned off, and it hits me—like a fender to the skull—that one day I will be dead. There is no escaping this reality. None. Zero. Zip. Whether I live until 100 or whether I pass tomorrow, I will be dead for the rest of eternity. No thought. No reactions. No breathing. No tasting. Pure, deceased nothingness.

I think this entered my brain today because, as most parents will agree to, kids make the time soar. They really do, because their lives serve as neon markers. First grade starts. First grade ends. Summer birthday party. Second grade starts. Second grade ends. Summer birthday party. So on and so on.

I try grasping on with as much ferocity as I can; until my fingers bleed. I’m around all the time, and I attempt to convince myself that my presence in the daily lives of my kids (not merely good morning and good night) causes the years to pass with less velocity. But I don’t think it does.

Truth is, time is fast. It doesn’t seem fast—it is fast. And, at the end, we’re all dead. It scares me, but it doesn’t really seem to scare others.

Which makes me jealous. Not of religion. Just of peace of mind.

Which I lack.