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The Random Nature of Life (and Death)



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.  

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Well said Fascinated. Beautiful.

My own grandmother died 3 days ago, on Sunday. On Monday, on our way home from meeting with the funeral director, we heard the news about the van attack on the radio. We missed driving straight into the chaos by about 20 minutes. Instead we had a glimpse of the aftermath and the inconvenience of traffic — nothing compared to what happened to innocent people who were outside enjoying the first nice day we have had this year. This is my neighbourhood. This is where I live and where I walk, shop, and it’s where I visit my doctor’s office and pharmacy. Where I had my first job as a teenager, where I would swim, skate or frequent the library. Where I went to elementary school as a child. This is where my friends and neighbours live. And I could have easily been there in the midst of this, but I wasn’t, and you said it best: because it’s all random.

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@Somer, I didn’t have time to respond properly until now. I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother.  What a terrible few days you have had. I am thinking of you and am so glad you missed the horror on Monday. :my_heart:

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@Fascinated thank you for writing that. You've summed up so beautifully what I wish I could say.

@Somer, I'm so sorry for the loss of your grandmother. There are truly no words to take away the pain of a tragedy that hits so close to home. Sending strength as you and your neighbors rebuild your community.

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