"There's nothing in our lives that says we're supposed to be here forever," he says. He reminds me that his father had died unexpectedly when he was in college. "We expect we're going to get certain things in life, but we're never actually promised them. And I was given a chance to know that there will be an end coming at some point in time. I had the option to either be pissed off as I went toward that end or to say I'm going to enjoy this and embrace every minute that I can. There may come a point down the road that I get upset, but if I'm angry now I miss whatever time I have left."I never got to know my Aunt Jean - said in some ways to be star of her family - who had ALS when pregnant with my cousin (also named Brian - odd synchronicity) and died not too long after. The ALS lifespan is measured in years instead of decades, but I think Wallach's point applies to everyone, even if they have hope of an order of magnitude more time to live.
If I had ALS, I'd imagine being kind of salty about all panicked resources being poured into COVID. As a society we're fortunate the former is uncommon, but that's a small consolation to the ones who it hits.
There's another photo I found, this one in our senior yearbook, page 93. It's our fifth-grade class picture. I'm standing in the back, awkward in huge glasses. Brian's sitting in the front row, legs crisscrossed, face serene. I like this one because we're not quite fully formed. The long arc of our lives had not yet been fixed. And then I remember that there is no arc. Nothing's fixed. There's just a box, and what you fill it with.
It's weird how some folks' Zoom headsets really sound like the mics used by the TV news helicopter traffic reporter. Especially the ones that even put the mic on a bendy stick right in front of the face.