An old buddy of mine died recently. We’d grown up together, played Little League baseball (he was our first baseman; I played second) and backyard football. And though we’d lost touch after our college years, it was still a bit of a shocker. At the funeral, his sister described his two months in the hospital after what appeared to be a stroke morphed into a fatal brain aneurysm. He was 59 and left behind a wife, three grown children, a couple of grandkids.
With all the alarming data we see these days about how unhealthy Americans are, it’s tempting on these occasions to shake your head sadly and think about all the ways this guy could’ve extended his life — better diet, more exercise, etc. — but I don’t know what kind of shape Phil was in. If the photos at the funeral were any indication, he didn’t have a weight problem. He looked like what you’d expect a guy pushing 60 would look like: gray hair, a little jowly, but hanging in there. Not the kind of guy you’d expect to kick off anytime soon.
But he did. Stroke, aneurysm, gone. Just like that.
It gives one pause, of course. There really are no guarantees. I might be in the best shape of my life, but it won’t matter much if I get hit by a truck on my way home from the gym. Or if some wayward batch of blood cells decides to gum up the works somewhere in my pea-sized brain.
Anything can happen, so I don’t see much good coming from dwelling on this stuff. We’re all going to die. So, seize the day, stay in the moment, and all that. And as much as I’d prefer to play things out here on this mortal plane for a few more years, I understand that I only have so much influence. But that doesn’t mean I won’t continue to hit the gym, work on my jump shot, and pretend I’m a lot younger than I am.
After all, if you gotta go, why not go out at the top of your game?