The Elevator and The Bigger Picture

 Some of you may have watched the HBO series called Six Feet Under that ran from about 2000-2005 about a family that owned a funeral home, and every episode opened with a freakish death scene.

In fact, the father who was the funeral director dies an untimely death himself and bequeaths the funeral home to his two sons.

The series, which ran for 63 episodes, evoked a recognition that life is most precious, too short, and can end in both horrible and unpredictable ways.

This week, I was reminded of this in all too many ways:

First, Brett Stephens wrote a beautiful piece in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about the graceful death of his father from a horrible brain tumor. Brett describes in vivid terms the operations, loss of sight, debilitating bouts of chemo and radiation, agonizing shingles, loss of memory, mobility, sight, ability to eat, and more. Brett writes: “cancer is a heist culminating in murder.”

Then today, all over the news were reports of of a horrible accident in New York, where a woman was killed in an elevator accident when it shot up while she was still only about half way on and she was crushed between the elevator and the shaft in a 25 story office building on Madison Avenue.

Third, I learned from a colleague about a wonderful gentlemen, who served his country in the armed forces and was an athlete in incredible shape, when one day in the gym, he suffered a massive heart, which deprived of oxygen for too long, and he was left horribly crippled for life.

Unfortunately, similar to Six feet Under, in real life, there are countless of stories of life’s fortunes and misfortunes, death and the aftermath (adapted from the show’s synopsis–I really liked how this was said). Yet, in the end, we are left with the completely heart wrenching feeling of how it is to be without and sorely miss the people we love so dearly.

In the Talmud, I remember learning this saying that to the Angel of Death it does not whether his intended is here or there–when a person’s time is up, death shows up and no matter how peaceful or painful, it is never convenient and always deeply traumatic in so many ways.

For one the elevator opens and closes normally and brings a person to their destination floor, and to another the door may close on them, never at all, or the elevator may shift right beneath their feet.

We can never really be prepared emotionally or otherwise for the devastation brought by accident, illness, and death–and while it is hard to be optimistic sometimes, we can try to maintain faith that The Almighty is guiding the events of our lives, and that he knows what he is doing, even if we cannot always understand the bigger picture.

May G-d have mercy.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Chris McKenna)

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