Native Writes: How long is a life?


The week opened with beautiful weather.


Everyone can experience that   We also know it could change in a heartbeat.


A heartbeat.


I believe each heartbeat is a treasure. Having experienced heart failure twice and being put back together by skilled surgeons, it’s easy for me to say.


When the heart stops, families gather together and lay their loved ones to rest or deal with the ashes left by cremation. It’s final.


To people left behind by a criminal death, the finality may be elusive.


Asking why something happened, the daughter of a murder victim said she would live the rest of her life asking that question.


Her elderly aunt had the same question and said she had been able to forgive the killer because God told her to. Her religion said so. Yet there is a longing within her that seeks a final answer.


When I was a young teenager, I had a colossal crush on a young man who had been killed in a car crash.
My mother was some help when she told me God had other plans for him.


It was the night of a big dance and he died in his white sport coat and pink carnation.


That was the style back then and a song about it hits the airwaves now and then.


Teenagers are still stylish and I still pray about their lives.


As I age, I wonder what my teenaged crush though as his life ended. It was sudden, his mother told mine.
I shouldn’t have a broken heart over it, she said.


Did a broken heart play into the script? How did the heart get mixed up with love?


“It didn’t mean love before the 13th and 14th centuries,” says Eric Jager, author of The Book of the Heart and medieval literature professor at UCLA. As the idea of romantic love began to take shape during that medieval period, so did the symbolism.


“[People at the time] thought of our hearts as books of memory, a place where God’s commands are written, and [believed] feelings for the beloved were somehow written on your heart,” says Jager.


I hope not. My joys may be there, but so are the sorrows. countless heartbeats.


I had a discussion with a young woman recently about a man who died alone. Natural causes. One’s last heartbeat can be either a blessing or a tragedy.


My young friend said if he had been murdered, his killer should be executed as a deterrent message to others planning such a heinous crime.


Maybe.


My life has led me to the realization that persons bent on crime don’t remember what they learned in civics class in school, read in a paper or heard from dad’s old cop buddy.


I told her the killer would spend life in prison without possibility of parole.


 “What’s life in prison?” she asked.


“Until death,” I replied. “It could be one year or 100.”


How many heartbeats?
Each one is a blessing

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