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Embracing Mortality

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Mortality gets a bad rap. So many people I know fear it, wish it weren't so. Not me. I see mortality as a thing to be embraced the way one would a child, up close and with tender abandon.

I lost my best friend at age 11 in a plane crash. So for me life has, almost from the beginning, felt not only precious but also fleeting. This doesn't make me anxious but grateful because this way of thinking puts me in a place to capture precious moments I might otherwise miss.

Like the other day, when my mom and I were discussing a plumbing matter over lunch. The handyman I'd hired to install a shower fixture had forgotten to attach the rough-in for a handle set. By the time we caught the error, the tile had already been set.

My husband and I were debating whether to rip open the wall so the fixture could be placed correctly. "What do you think?" I asked my mom in between bites of a burger. "I don't need it now but maybe later when I'm older."

"You might," Mom said.


A long moment of silence passed between us.

"You won't be here when I'm old," I said quietly.

"No," said Mom breaking into a broad smile. "But the handle set will, and you might want it."

As my mother cataloged the pros and cons of having a handle set in the shower, I cataloged every detail of how her face she looked then - her white blond hair and the candy pink lipstick and the crooked bottom teeth that looked like mine - fixing the image in my mind for later.

And then, shaking off my melancholy, I refocused my attention on the present and the simple pleasure of sitting with my mom at a red picnic table, the early spring sun warming the crowns of our heads, as we ate burgers and talked plumbing fixtures.

With a Perspective, I'm Holly Hubbard Preston.

Holly Hubbard Preston writes essays and fiction from her base in St. Helena.

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