In business they call something that continues on and on indefinitely a "going concern." This is important for business and financing purposes: no one should invest in a business if it's going to die.
I think we like to view our lives as going concerns as well, even though that's the furthest thing from the truth. The peace we experience by not thinking about the finiteness of life makes it worth not thinking about. And so we carry on, not worrying about the limited time we have and what it all means.
Until something happens:
Someone slams on their breaks on the highway and you barely avoid a car crash. You snap out of it and think about how quickly things would have changed for you and everyone you love. Or you might think, "Who would remember me? What have I done?" You think about these things until the top-of-the-hour news comes on the radio, and some random story captures your attention, and the thoughts that could have led to knew and profound insights fade away.
Or you learn that someone you once knew died unexpectedly. You think of who they once were and your times with them. You wonder how their days since your time with them went. Were they happy? Sad? And you think how lucky you are to be alive. You call someone you love, but when you talk, you don't discuss how lucky you feel to be alive, and how lucky you feel to know them. But, instead, you talk about random stuff instead. And the thoughts and feelings of the urgency and importance of life right now pass.
Or you get swept away in a sea of emotion during a heart-wrenching movie. Something about the story triggers a tsunami of thoughts and feelings ... about life, mortality, what you're not doing, and why. Your awareness of things that do (and don't) exist in your life come crashing into focus ... hello. You promise to "stop taking things for granted" or "pretending someday is going to come." You wake up. You snap out of it. And ..... you journal, update your Facebook status, text a friend, and go back to bed.
At the end of the day, none of us are "going concerns." All of us are going to exit.
Even I – knowing full well that my time with Gabrielle is less and less – struggle with this concept on a regular basis. I (almost willingly) allow fluff and details to trick me into believing that an ultimate goodbye isn't waiting around the corner. Having this pending finality in the forefront of our minds all the time seems unsustainable. It's there. Lingering.
The silver lining, I suppose, in raising a child who you know will pass is – ironically – that you have to to confront death and our limited time here. Over and over and over. For brief moments. Every day.
It's like getting close-calls on the highway, or news of old friends passing, or watching movies that pull at your heart strings all the time. But that's a bad thing? Right?
Well of course it is. It sucks, actually.
But by forcing us to repeatedly confront death, loss, and a final goodbye; by making us learn to live with sadness and pain; and requiring that we take care of her at the same time, with as much love and laughter as we can muster – over and over – Gabrielle has actually made us better people.
Wiser. More empathetic. More spiritual. More real.
No amount of life duties and distractions will enable us to avoid the realities most people are able to ignore (until they near their end). Gabrielle is always there. Right now for real. After, in spirit. And despite all the sadness and heartbreak, I wouldn't ever want to be the person I was before she arrived.
She's not, I'm not, and no one is, an indefinite going concern. But, unlike business, where's it's common knowledge that only a fool would invest in a company that wasn't going to last that long, it's different with people. My daughter is going to end. I am going to end. Heck, we're all going to end. But people and experiences are worth investing time, money, emotion, and energy into, especially if we love them.
And I'm learning the results can be wonderful and definitely indefinite.