Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Adults wring their hands and worry over teenagers who think they're immortal. Some teenagers think they can beat the train across the tracks. They'll try car-surfing. The kids can't figure out the adults' concern; after all, they're going to be just fine, nothing bad will happen to them.

Kids who don't do wacky and dangerous things will insist that THEY don't think THEY're immortal like some of those OTHER teenagers. I remember conversations with my son-in-law (long before he was interested in my daughter) where he couldn't understand why his mom would worry about certain things he did. Ummm, that would be because Nathan was thinking he was immortal. Oh, he would object when I said that!

I would vociferously disagree when somebody told me as a teenager that I thought I was immortal. I knew better than that. How could anybody suggest such nonsense of me? And yet, twenty years later, I realized that there were rides at Six Flags that scared me. Why hadn't they scared me before? Ummm, because back then, I was immortal.

I'm seeing now all sorts of things that I did (a practical teenager who knew, of course, that she wasn't immortal) that betrays how much I figured I was immune to death. I knew better in my head. But not in my gut. For instance, how shocked I am (and likewise my middle-aged friends are) at bodies that cannot do what they used to be able to do. Even if I do have time for it, I cannot mow the whole yard and clean the whole house in one day anymore; there's just not energy to do it like there used to be.

And it's not just the youngsters. We all know people who get to be in their 60s or 70s, and then a friend dies, and then another friend, and then another. And the person begins to think, "Oh my gosh! What's going on? All my friends are dying! What's up with this?" Logically, our minds know better, but there's still that element of shock down in our gut that our buddies --our agemates-- die.

Maybe that's just a tiny little hint that death is foreign, and things weren't created to be this way.

Or maybe it's just that it takes us a long long time to get it through our skulls that sin and death are part of our very own selves.


  1. I actually don't think that we ever entirely, completely, 100% get it into our heads that we're not immortal, now.

    I came to this conclusion after some (elderly) people I know were talking about a guy who was 98 who died. "He went before his time... it was just such a shock to everyone. We just can't believe it happened to him." I know it was callous, but I almost laughed. And then I thought, "Wait. Do these people think they're going to live LONGER than 98?"

    I certainly think there are those who know their own mortality (death) better than others. And I know I'm learning it more and more as I get older. I see people blow by me on the interstate while I'm going 70 and I think, "Holy cow! What IDIOTS." And then I realize that was me 6-7 years ago...

    But I still don't think we'll completely get it until that final day comes. At least, I seriously doubt I will, anyway.

  2. Exactly what I'm thinkin'.

    I too remember seeing obituaries where someone in his/her late 80s "died unexpectedly." At the time I thought that was weird. But when Dorothy died recently in her mid-70s, I couldn't believe it: she was so young.

    So, yup, I think we don't get over it until we're dead. And then we are immortal.

  3. Another thing (at least with me) is that I feel I always have time. "Oh, I can be frivolous and catch up on writing later, I have this book I want to read." Or, more importantly, "I really need to do this school, and I don't want to leave this mess right here in the commons. Maybe I shouldn't go to chapel today." (But then I end up going because the bell keeps ringing and ringing and it makes me feel bad.)