“Life is fragile.”
I will never forget the day my boss said those words. She sat behind her desk while the rest of the Student Life staff crowded in her office, trying to comprehend the death of one of our college students. He had just died of appendicitis after self-medicating with marijuana.
Her skin was the color of maple syrup and her brown eyes were moist. She picked up a tub of lotion from her desk and methodically rubbed the creme into her wrinkled hands.
“Life is fragile,” she repeated. “All of you, you’re too young to see that. These kids…” she gestured out the window toward the rest of the campus, “these kids don’t realize… life… life is fragile. We’re just a dust.” Her fingers left off rubbing the lotion in and flickered through the air.
We listened, in shock. Her words that afternoon have haunted me as some of the most wise I have ever heard.
Life. Life is fragile. Humans are just a dust, a bag of moist organs held together by a thin layer of skin. It’s a wonder any of us survive at all.
I don’t want to accept this truth. I want to be invincible.
I drive my car at 85 mph, staunchly refusing to acknowledge a single blown tire or rock kicked into the windshield might result in the loss of my life in a moment. I watch my children dare, shielding my mind from the reality a simple misstep on a piece of playground equipment could result in their death.
Danger? Ha, ha! I laugh in the face of danger!
Every day I hide from the knowledge I am in situations that could end dramatically, horrifically wrong. That burner that’s not completely cooled before I unconsciously put a dish towel on the glass top of my stove top… not really paying attention to which bottle I grab to medicate my headache… the patch of ice outside my vehicle door that blends into the ground but could cause a fall and a nasty bash to the head.
Life is fragile. But by the daily grace of God, I would be the story above the top fold of the newspaper. Life is fragile.
Violent events reach through our illusions of security and grab us around the neck with their clawed hands of fear. Nonstop news coverage both sensationalizes and desensitizes us.
Oh, how we want to make sense of tragedy. Oh! We want to blame something for the inexplicable! It’s mental health! It’s gun control! It’s parenting! It’s self-esteem! It’s sin! It’s… it’s… it’s… it’s…
… it’s life.
Life is a delicate dance that flirts with danger and safety, joy and sorrow, birth and death. To have only one aspect robs the entirety of living.
Four days ago an unthinkably evil event shook our reality. It broke through my illusion that I am invincible. I am angry about that! I am sad about that! I am scared about that!
But nothing has really changed. Because in the end, every day, all life is fragile. It’s my job to be sure I’m prepared at a moment’s notice to confront that reality… because but by the grace of God… it’s me.
It’s me. Life is fragile.
I must be ready. Are you?