A loss for words

Well, this has been an interesting couple of nights and days. Monday night Red and I were semi-paying attention to the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals when we were suddenly riveted by the human drama of medical personnel fighting for the life of Damar Hamlin, whose heart stopped on the football field. We felt for the TV personalities who were forced to sit in front of a camera with a live microphone, in shock and unable to say anything because, well, they were in shock. We felt for the gladiators suddenly reminded that we’re all human and this is life, right here in front of us, moment by moment.

And then Tuesday afternoon Red called and said don’t panic, I’m in the hospital and it’s appendicitis. Her surgeon thought about rolling her right into an operating room, but first he considered some other options to attack the immediate infection and reassess the need for and timing of any surgery. I’m a big fan of not invading someone’s body unless and until it’s absolute necessary, and apparently so is he. Nice to have someone like that leading the medical team. At this point she’s on the mend and OK.

The world feels a little turned upside down, though. I started a blog post on the laptop, titled it “Reminders of mortality,” and was suddenly gripped by a notion that I’ve spent too, too, too much time in the presence of glowing screens, and so the rest of this piece is transcribed/adapted from my pen-and-paper journal.

Our time in this life has a beginning and an end. What we do between those points is all we have of this life. Oh, I’m so profound. I’m a fraud and an imposter, but we all are when all’s said and done, aren’t we? (If this sounds like mindless babbling, that’s because that’s exactly what it is.)

There’s always a desire to summarize everything in one pithy little thought, or a paragraph that ties it all up in one fell swoop. I’m not sure that’s possible. Even if everything happens for a reason, people say that because they’re baffled about what that reason might be.

(At this point my mind was distracted — what does the phrase “one fell swoop” mean, anyway? Where did it come from? Especially the “fell” part — it’s clearly one of those words that doesn’t mean what it used to be when the phrase was invented.

No worries — I went down the rabbit hole for you and found this explanation. Sure enough, as used in the 13th century “The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘fell’ as meaning ‘fierce, savage; cruel, ruthless; dreadful, terrible.’” In Macbeth, Shakespeare has MacDuff — hearing that his family and servants have all been killed — laments with a metaphor that a vicious bird has destroyed “all my pretty chickens and their dam at one fell swoop.”)

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