The Best is Over

My grandpa Cyr died in his sixties. He chased a bottle into an open grave. They called it congestive heart failure, but that barely describes the number of years he worked to bring about that specific event. In those six decades , he was orphaned, immigrated to America with adoptive parents, fought in a war, married twice, divorced once, fathered children, abandoned children, helped raise children who weren’t his, spent countless hours on both sides of the bar, and woke up in the hospital more than once before that final check in.

My grandmother Cyr (nee Shelton) died almost twenty years after him. In her four score years on this earth, she grew up in a small Missouri town and lived her life in the ever present of her mother’s death when she was just a child. She spent her entire life searching for what she lost, everywhere from the depths of her own heart to the pews of a megachurch in a Saint Louis exurb. In that time, she left her small town, joined the army, lived in New York City, married, divorced, mothered three daughters of her own, helped raise eight grandchildren, suffered, but always surviving, financial crisis after crisis, read every book she could find regardless of the subject, and did her best to avoid the doctors and hospital visits that might have given her ten more years with us.

Assuming my time here will be somewhere between how long each of them had, and I split the difference by making in into my seventies, I’ve thirty years left. Which wouldn’t be so scary, if it didn’t seem like the first forty-five hadn’t gone by so god damn quickly.

I’m not afraid to die. One of the joys of being an unabashed atheist is that I recognize the illogic of being afraid of nothingness. You don’t need to fear death, because there’s nothing in it to fear. I’m just disappointed by how much I won’t get to do.

Yes, it’s a cliché . One more middle-aged white dude running from a pale horse, dumbstruck by his own mortality. It’s a well mined vein. It’s the basic premise of Hamilton (“There’s a million things I haven’t done”) and a good portion of the conflict in Jesus Christ Superstar (“Could you’ve asked as much from any other man?”). But it seems a lot less clichéd when you’re going through it.

I barely feel like an adult, much less like one who is closer to the grave than he is to the cradle.

There’s a great line from the first episode of The Sopranos where Tony is speaking to Dr. Melfi, and describes how he feels about being in organized crime. It perfectly sums up how I feel about so many things from America to stand-up comedy.

“It’s good to be in something from the ground floor. I came to late for that and I know. But lately, I’m getting the feeling that I came in at the end. The best is over.”

I might not be handling my forties well.

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