In 1999 John F Kennedy Jr, his wife, and her sister were killed when the plane he was piloting at night with the three aboard crashed into the sea. Some may recall that in the weeks prior, Kennedy had been photographed wearing a cast & using crutches. Just before the flight he’d had the cast removed. Over the 20 years since I’ve sometimes wondered if he thought to himself or even said aloud about the cast’s removal, “Now I have my life back.” That’s what I would have been tempted to say to myself in similar conditions.
I feel badly about all of it and empathetic if he did indeed feel that way, that now his life “could start again” only to have it promptly end in such a dramatic, horrific way, which is not to disregard in any way his responsibility for his wife’s and her sister’s deaths as well.
Kennedy’s ankle cast & subsequent death are locked into my mind, married together. He probably was so happy & relieved to have that cast taken off (in fact its removal was the deciding factor in his ability to fly without a co-pilot). I have been guilty, as many are, of thinking, when so & so happens, my life can start, or start again. Sometimes things DO improve after such & so happens but the overriding point is there is almost no guarantee that it will. Just because we think when “X” happens my life will get better, doesn’t make it so. And sometimes, maybe one area improves and another worsens. (Imagine say, for example, the person who lands their Dream Job and consequently their relationship suffers because all their time & attention is being absorbed.)
I’ve been wanting to bring up this thought for awhile about John F Kennedy Jr so there isn’t any specific link to the present intended. That said, I know that many people currently feel their lives are on hold and they want to “get back to normal.” I don’t feel this way, for a variety of reasons not especially germaine to this post. What I think, however, is that this is your life. It may not be the best part, or an enjoyable part, or your favorite part, but it’s still part. I think that’s always true, whether there’s a pandemic or not. And not just because of the rare chance that a huge, dramatic experience, possibly a very bad one, is waiting for you on the other side of this or any given time, but because if you’re here and breathing, this is your life. That’s easy to forget, I know. I suspect John F Kennedy’s story, the ankle cast and the fatal crash, stick with me, as a reminder. A reminder which can be seen as either grim or hopeful, depending on how you/I choose to look at it.