Or, life and death and the ever-increasing awareness of mortality in between.
Today is the birthday of one of my nieces. It is always a day of much reflection for me (whether you know it or not, Miss C), for reasons I'm not willing to get into publicly. Ask if you wanna know.
Late last night, I learned of the death of someone I admired and who had provided me much-needed help (of various sorts) and encouragement at a time in my life where I really, really needed some extra TLC and a *whole* lot more belief in my basic worth as a human being. That he survived some really horrible crap that life threw at him in the last several years was inspiring in itself. I always knew him to be kind and generous with whatever resources he had to offer that he thought you needed. Those who disagreed -- publicly, doing much damage -- surely contributed to the stress that eventually killed him via a heart attack at a relatively young age.
Same thing happened a few years ago to someone else in the same profession who always went above and beyond for me, although I just heard from him the other day and he sounds upbeat and well. It's a risk you know is out there when you become a professional caregiver, I guess. And although the ones I've known decided to do what they do for a living partly to heal themselves, they also all genuinely have been compassionate people who wanted to help others through painful times and get to reasonably OK ones. Takes one to know one, etc.
I'm at that particular life stage where I'm thinking about this stuff a lot, anyway, wondering what dreams may come when I shuffle off this mortal coil. Sometimes I miss being 22 and thinking I'm invincible and that I have all the time in the world. Enjoy it while you can, birthday girl.