Nor Youth's Ambitions

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Several years ago, at 13 years old, I had to memorize a small speech called Immortality for a civic club in which I was a new member.  Immortality / Death was the subject. This is quite an early age for the big lessons about death to be learned, but I have never forgotten it. In fact, the lines come back to me now, the older I get, because I am at the middle of my life when funerals are as common as weddings. But never more do the words I learned back then ring true than when a young person dies. 


"It may seem strange that we should direct your mind to the thought of death, you so young, so fair, your years so tender, every hope and every ambition, just begins to bud and bloom in your life. But, however fair, however hopeful, we would teach you the lesson that death is no respector of persons. It lays its hands upon the flower and tree; it takes the babe and the mother; it regards not youth, nor youth’s ambitions."


It regards not youth, nor youth's ambitions.  No, it certainly does not.


But lately, there is another time when those words spring to mind; when I hear of mental illness and addiction.  


And today, it's one of the worst days, when all of those three things have come together and a young person, because of his struggles with mental illness and addiction has taken his own life. He was the son of some old friends of mine. Friends who I admire and love.  It's shocking. Like anyone, I am at a loss for good words of comfort.  I am not religious, and even if I was, I can't imagine finding good in this tragedy. Sometimes, probably more often than is admitted, life takes an unexpected, devastating turn for the worst and all one can do is endure the pain.  


That's a lesson that I hope we can teach our kids. Oh, we shelter them, it's true. But somewhere in this wonderful life my husband and I have created for August and Asher, I hope we can teach them how to endure the pain. And I will hope, while I am teaching them this, that they never have to call upon that kind of inner strength the way my old friends and their daughter will have to do in the years to come.



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