I’m 31 years old.
I know someone who had a baby, and the child died after only three days of being alive.
I know someone whose dad died, suddenly and rapidly, from coronavirus in only his 50s.
I know someone who mis-swallowed a shrimp during a cooking class, went into a coma, and then died two years later, still in this vegetative state.
I know someone who discovered they had a brain tumor when they were 31, the same age I am.
I know someone whose best friend died from covid when they were both in their 20s.
I know someone who walked into their house after school when they were 14 years old and found their father in his bed, having died in his sleep at just 52 years old.
In some cases, these people I know are my family, former roommates, or good friends. In others, they are remote acquaintances or loose connections. But I know all of them on a personal basis. I have seen them in the flesh. I have shaken their hand or given them a hug.
The older you get, the more you realize: Death is all around us — and so is tragedy. As you keep up with an ever-growing network of people throughout your life, the more “real shit” you witness firsthand. The statistics we all know about but think won’t affect us begin to kick in. One in two people will get cancer. One in three deaths ties back to cardiovascular problems. One out of 100 covid cases will die, and soon, 10% of the global population will have had it.
When we’re young, we want to turn every day into a win. Make it big! Go all out! Score that big sale, party on a Wednesday, or drop way too much money on an awesome vacation! We try very hard to make days epic and outstanding and memorable.
Then, we get older, and while we experience more joy, we also witness a lot more pain and suffering — and our definition of “good day” begins to change. I’m only in my 30s now, but I’ll already gladly settle for “no tragedy today.” No one died. No one was hurt. No one was diagnosed with cancer. In essence, “no bad news is good news enough.” The day can be boring, and I’ll be very happy.
Chances are, you also know “someone who,” and, most likely, you’re “someone who” to somebody else as well. The world is a calmer, kinder place when we keep ourselves humble through each other’s example, and it is much easier to be grateful when you can settle for the little things.
Life is fragile. Life is precious. I know someone who’ll remember that.