On the news was a story about a train in Italy that was derailed by a flash mudslide. So far eleven deaths are reported. The mudslide was allegedly caused by the bursting of an irrigation pipe. We all have friends that have gone from diagnosis to death in short periods of time but even that gives a moment, a window, to try to prepare, to say goodbye. I thought about this most ordinary activity, riding the train; one moment riding, the next gone in a mountain of mud. What a terrible death. And then there are those swallowed or crushed by their homes and offices collapsing on them in an earthquake; or drowned in the wave of an unavoidable tsunami. This brought me the myriad ways in which sudden death happens ~ just think of those killed by drunk drivers in the flash of an eye. Sorry if you are depressed now. But trite as it seems, it made me stop and think how lucky I am. How lucky my family is. We have been touched by very little sudden or “unnatural” death; although there has been some. Maybe writing this will jinx that, but I don’t think so. I think luck is luck and life is life. As the parent of an only child (a hard found adopted one at that) I fear always that something will happen to him ~ opening our arms to let him fly is very hard but has to be done. My mother’s revenge is complete; she told me that once I had a child I would worry for the rest of my life. I can love her so much more now for worrying about me where I used to find it annoying because I understand it so much better; particularly as my child is driving and testing his wings. My prayers now are often just to keep my family safe, the love of my life, my child, my brothers and their children. This past year has taught us nothing if not that disaster can strike in the blink of an eye; a fire, a flood, a wreck. As full as my life is of the tasks that must be managed, job, child, dad, caregivers, husband, meals, shopping, whatever, it is time to practice what I would tell my friends, stop, smell, listen, breathe. The chores will still be there. So this Saturday, as an act of sheer gratitude, I did nothing at all. I lay outside and read until it grew too hot, then I lay on the sofa and read until it was time to eat or sleep. I worked on not feeling guilty, but just actually relaxing. The only armor I have against fear is gratitude and faith. I pray for the poor souls left behind, they are the ones suffering and I am grateful not to be among them.