These words have been going through my mind since the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday, it is called, but for me the meaning was far from that of the retail community, referring to Christmas sales.

In the complex where I live, a woman took her life by jumping eight stories to her death. I didn’t really know this woman or the circumstances of her life, but I have had several somewhat sleepless nights, trying to understand how it is possible for a human being to forfeit what seems to me the most wonderful gift of all – the gift of life.

Those of us who live in this community have by and large, lived through at least seven or eight decades of life and some even nine. Recalling my own life and those of others I have known, I have learned that life isn’t a given. Still births, accidents, diseases, all seeming opponents of being alive and staying alive, keep us vigilant, and sadden us at times, but at other times we are filled with gratitude.

Philosophers have pondered the nature of life, trying to explain its origins, and men of medicine search for ways to expand and improve the duration, as well as the quality of life. Poets eulogize what they consider the beautiful in life and you and I question and simultaneously heap praise and condemnation on an amazing force that we don’t really understand, but still, for which we give thanks.  

Yes, living is indeed a slippery slope and there are times, without exception, when each and every one of us needs a hand. Sadly, some of us don’t know how to ask, or consider that our asking for help is a sign of weakness, so imbued are we with being stouthearted, and filled with the dogma that every one of us is an island. But of course, we are not.

No man or woman is an island, as postulated by the poet, John Donne,”Any man’s death diminishes me, Because I am so involved in mankind, And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;it tolls for thee.” If we truly believe that, it is beholden on every one of us to reach out and touch someone. Maybe we didn’t always behave in that fashion, but as older citizens who are committed to growing older disgracefully, I am convinced that our time is now. Are you with me? Are you ready to reach out and touch someone? Now?

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