At what age did you realize you were not immortal? How did you react to that discovery?
I think most people make this discovery in their late teenage years. Children recognize that humans are not immortal, but because of their youth, feel that they will not die. At that age, dying is for old people, which they will never become.
Teenagers are famous for their invincibility. But it is in the late teen years, I mean 17, 18, and 19, that kids become aware of their own mortality. Unfortunately this usually comes with the death of a friend, or young person they know.
However, on uncommon occasion, young children are exposed to the death of another young child. This is how I was introduced to my mortality.
In first grade, a boy in my school, whom I didn’t know very well, passed away. We were mostly kept in the dark regarding his health. He had a brain tumor, and he was sick. That was all we were told. No one said anything about dying. We were all eagerly awaiting his return to school. But he never came back.
One day, while dropping us off, my teacher told my mom that she need to go to the office because they needed to talk to her. Naturally, I assumed that I’d done something wrong, and was going to get in trouble. But I didn’t. That evening, my parents sat my brother and I down, and explained that our friend had died.
To a six year old, kids don’t die. Kids get sick, and then they get better. I was confused. But I knew what it meant. I knew what dead meant. He wasn’t going to get better. He wasn’t coming back.
When I got older, I never had any feelings of invincibility. I watched my classmates do stupid things, with the mentality that nothing bad would happen to them. But I never did that. My own mortality has always been in the back of my mind. And I always credited that to losing a classmate so early on in life.
At his funeral, his mom said something to my mom. This one sentence has always been with me.
“You gotta love ’em while you got ’em.”
For the Daily Post’s Daily Prompt
Part of the Daily Blogging Challenge