The marrow of life

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My parents have settled into the steady routine of their retired lives. They walk their energetic dogs on the beach every day and they do all their own housework, which keeps them active and in relatively good health. But there’s no escaping the fact that they’re now officially senior citizens.
When I visited them over the festive season, they carefully went over the things I should be aware of in the event of their deaths, including their living wills, what I should do about their pets and specific wishes for their funerals. They showed me where important documents are in their home and gave me other information that I would otherwise be clueless about if I have to sort out their affairs posthumously. It all felt a bit grim and hardly in keeping with the festive spirit of the season, but I need to know these things. We all need to be prepared for the eventuality of endings, so I’m glad we went through the exercise, however morbid it seemed at the time. It was a stark reminder of our mortality and the importance of good housekeeping, in every sense of the word. But it also reminded me to truly appreciate my loved ones and not to squander opportunities to celebrate their lives, or life itself.
As we kick off 2014, perhaps the words of Henry David Thoreau, who did not wish to discover that he had not lived when the time came to die, are worth reflecting on: “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,” he wrote in Walden.

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