Thursday, March 24, 2016

RIP Gary Shandling, And All Of Us

He was one of a kind, and he will be missed. I’m sorry to lose him; I’m sorry for his family’s loss. I’m also sorry that all of us of a certain age are going through this loss process so frequently by now, and wondering when our turns will come. 

Gary was a year younger than I am. I particularly hate it when that happens.

It all seemed to accelerate this year, people dying. For some it was no surprise; for others we marveled at the fact that they had made it as long as they had. For some, there was a period of illness; for others, death came in an unanticipated rush. None of it is easy for the deceased, or the families, or we mere observers, whether or not we happen to be fans.

It’s always fun to watch survivors combing the fact patterns for evidence that the decedent participated in his demise in ways that make them feel safer. He smoked! He was fat! He drank to excess! It was the drugs! That’s a foolish exercise, because the truth is that a lot of people who live their lives very carefully drop dead suddenly, or come down with fatal diseases.

This year I have the definite feeling that I’ve crossed a threshold. I feel officially old. For a few years I have felt small, subtle changes, but this year something seems to have taken hold. Up until very recently I honestly believed that I was in my late-middle-age. By now I’m ready to admit that I’m in my early-old-age. What a fucking party! I find it all horrible, and I don’t like it one bit. I look in the mirror and I think, “what’s my father doing here?” I hardly recognize myself in photographs. I guess I’ll just have to get used to it.

Or not. The message in all of this dying is that any of us Baby Boomers could, at this point, drop dead at any time. It’s our duty now to make the best of that message, to try and find something positive in it. It would be great to find a way to embrace the whole thing, like Beethoven did, to find a way to embrace decrepitude. I wish my fellow sufferers luck. I don’t know if I’m up to it myself.

Good luck, dear readers. May you be in heaven an hour before the devil knows you’re dead. But not too soon, I hope. 

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