My grandmother was born in 1898 and died at the age of 102 in 2001, thus living a life touching three centuries. At the time of her death she was of diminished stature and eyesight but was otherwise ‘healthy’. She had never contracted polio, as my grandfather had, and she was never stricken with cancer or heart disease, or any other ailment. She simply died of old age as her body just could not sustain life anymore.
My grandmother lived most of her life in England, moving to Canada when she was eighty. She survived two world wars, and was not among the millions of people who perished in the bombings or in concentration camps.
Grandma was not in Manchester in 1996, nor was she on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie.
She was not visiting the World Trade Centre or the Pentagon in 2001. She was not on a flight that day destined for a quiet field in Pennsylvania.
She was not on a train in beautiful Madrid in 2004, nor was she strolling along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice in 2016. She adored visiting Paris, but was not there in November of 2015. My grandmother was not enjoying a summer afternoon on La Rambla in Barcelona last year. She was also not crossing London Bridge in the city she loved so much.
My grandmother would likely never have gone to the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and, similarly, would not have enjoyed a wonderful country festival in Las Vegas. Grandma was not in Oklahoma City or San Bernadino, nor was she teaching innocent children in Dublane, Scotland or Sandy Hook, Connecticut, or Parkland, Florida.
My grandmother was also not walking on Yonge Street in Toronto yesterday.
In over a hundred years she was never in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not once. But so, so many other people were. They left home one day and never returned. None will live to the age my grandmother did. They have all had their futures stolen from them and their families have been forever destroyed. Simply because they were in those places at the worst possible moment. In many of those instances, a few short minutes was the difference between life and death.
I’m glad my grandmother was not alive to witness 9/11 and the continuous horrors exacted across the globe in the subsequent years. I sometimes imagine that human beings are an experiment; one that will prove to be a complete and utter failure. It seems we will never cease finding ways to kill each other.
Yes, my grandmother was lucky. As am I as I write this post. And all of you, my lovely FJ friends, are, too. I hope we will all be as fortunate as my grandmother.
Because it is all just so fucking random.