The Meaning of Life by Debra H. Goldstein

Debra HeadshotThe Meaning of Life by Debra H. Goldstein

Recently I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the meaning of life and its other alternative. This isn’t a new topic for me to explore. I first started thinking about it shortly after my fiftieth birthday when I woke one morning to find my arms had turned to flab and I had become my mother. The thoughts were generated by a discussion with a friend who was in the last stages of cancer. She was questioning what purpose living in her debilitated state had and whether after we die, we are remembered or the life we lived fades away.

I couldn’t answer her questions. I was too focused on reaching outside my comfort zone to find ways to ease her journey. When she died, I decided her purpose was the seed of herself planted in others through charitable doing, mentoring, and touching people at the right time. Her nourishment of others left ideas, feelings, and values to reseed the next generation.

Time went on and I didn’t spend much time dwelling on the meaning of life. I was too busy enjoying the life cycle events that constantly were occurring in the lives of my friends and my own family. Trips to visit and cuddle new babies, writing events, the coming of age Bar Mitzvah ceremony of a nephew, graduations from pre-school through professional school, and the joy of watching my daughter walk down the aisle to be with the man she has chosen to spend the rest of her life with consumed my waking hours. Why dwell on life and death when so many things were going on?

I was attending a writer’s conference being held on a property in Disneyworld when I glanced down at my smartphone and noticed an email entitled “OMG.” Above “OMG” was an endless string of responding e-mails. A friend who was a wife, mother, respected professional, devoted kayaker, and person who was taking me out for a birthday lunch the next week had had a cerebral bleed and died within minutes the night before. Everyone, including me, was in shock that this young and healthy vibrant woman was gone. No “why” made sense.

My other friends and I went on living. At one of the other planned lunch celebrations for my birthday, one of our lunch bunch mentioned she was celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary. Knowing she had married a much older man and that part of his proposal had been he would be hers for at least twenty-five years, we asked what he had given her for their special anniversary. The answer: the promise of trying for another twenty-five years as wonderful as the first. Last week, our lunch bunch held our breath when this man who never gets sick was hospitalized with pneumonia and a low blood count. We all feared he wouldn’t be able to keep his promise. Happily, his positive response to medical treatment has given them the opportunity to share many more years together.

In Jewish tradition, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it is decided who shall live and who shall die. At the time of Yom Kippur, one’s fate hopefully is inscribed in the book of life. I don’t know how or why the final decision is made. I cannot venture a guess as to our true purpose in living or if there is an existential meaning of life, but I do know I value every moment of it that I share with my family, friends, and those individuals I will meet in the future.

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  1. July 2, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Wonderful post, Debra. I’ve lost two close friends in the last couple of years, both with so much to live for and both taken way too soon. Now, with a new granddaughter, my first at age 72, I hope I’m around to see her grow. I refuse to think otherwise. But life is a cycle, and the best we can do is make the most of the time we have.

    • July 2, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      Hopefully, not only will you have many years to spend with your beautiful new granddaughter, but you will have the opportunity to introduce her to the Circle of Life when she is old enough to see The Lion King either as a movie or a play. I agree, when we lose friends too soon or have friends or personal medical issues, we realize how fragile life and time truly is.

  2. Jamie
    June 30, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Your writing just brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing your beautiful words!

    • July 1, 2014 at 5:24 pm

      Thank you for letting me know my words touched you. It means a lot to me.

  3. June 25, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Debra: We’re all just passing through. Aren’t we fortunate to travel with some exceptional folks? Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • June 25, 2014 at 9:24 pm

      What you say is so true….even if the travels are short, every encounter has a purpose.

  4. June 24, 2014 at 6:04 am

    Loved your entry. Judy was so dear, and its good to keep her life’s meaning alive in your writing. And it is good to pause and count our blessings. You are one of mine
    Love
    Judi

    • June 24, 2014 at 8:45 am

      As are you in mine….thank you for stopping by and sharing your reaction and feelings.

  5. June 20, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    Debra, you have touched so many lives through your generosity and wisdom. I am glad you are in my life–hopefully for a long time!

  6. June 20, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Great article, Debra!

      Jimsey

    MagicCityMoments.com “Your Good News Source” Website Design & Development Jimsey@MagicCityMoments.com

    Located in The Design District 205.994.2404

    ________________________________

  7. June 20, 2014 at 10:58 am

    What a wonderfully honest and entertaining piece “of” life. Great article.

    • June 20, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      Jimsey,
      Thank you for enjoying both the honesty and the entertaining side of the post.

  8. June 20, 2014 at 7:29 am

    Debra: you do such a great job on your posts. The meaning of life? Deep subject but you tied to situations we all face and most of all you post regularly and on expected schedule — a discipline we other bloggers admire and should emulate. Best to you. See you in July at Awc meeting I hope.

    • June 20, 2014 at 4:45 pm

      Jackie,
      Thank you for your praise…..and for finding something to identify with in the post. It truly is a topic that gives pause for a lot of thought.

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