We went to a funeral mass today for the husband of a friend who had died last week of motor neurone disease. The family lives just outside of Dublin in what used to be a small village and is now almost a suburb of the city. Even though, the church had not changed and still looked like a small country church; the people at the mass who packed the church beyond capacity also felt much more like a close nit country community than a cosmopolitan city crowd. The mass brought home the immense tragedy of his untimely death as well as the tremendous loss his departure meant to his wife and children, as well as to his wider family, friends and the community where he had lived.

The man had died at my age. He is had a wife and three children. So there were a few parallels and, for a moment, I thought about my own, and then ‘our’, limited presence on this earth.

New lives arrive and existing lives are taken away. All the time. Everybody knows, but few notice and only if and when they are directly affected. Everybody also knows that this whole process mostly just happens.

My presence on Earth, my arrival and my death, are accidental. (Unless, of course, I believe in a divine plan, some kind of ‘book’ that contains my name; a concept, I have problems with.) Therefore, the ‘big’ thing, the thing I can take charge of, the one I am responsible for, are neither my birth nor my death. It’s the time in between. However long that is.

Yes, there are plenty of reasons to mark the beginning and the end of one’s presence on Earth. But it’s only that presence that really counts: life.

Still not back to ‘normal’, still staying away from Pádraig so that I don’t pass on whatever it was that knocked me out. Hope to change that from tomorrow. I’m feeling better and while it’ll take another few days to recover fully, the ‘good’ molecules in my body are taking control back over from the ‘bad’ ones. (I know that’s not the way it works but that’s how it feels:)