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  • Every day, both ways (to and from work), I pass a particular bit of graffiti. A thought scrawled on a utility box.

    "I can't believe some day I'm going to die."

    "Huh," I thought the first time I saw it. "That's… Huh."

    My words ran out.

    It's not exactly a graffiti-prone neighborhood. The box sits firmly across from a park filled with tots and dogs. People run its half-mile perimeter and walk and talk, making laps, loops, quick work of a healthy lifestyle. Dark women with light accents call to children named Parker and Grayson, Sofia and Emma.

    Leaves rustle from the trees towering overhead. People spread blankets and lie in the dappled sunlight and shade, reading, eating, sleeping. Dogs run free, chasing squirrels, balls, each other.

    Across the street, the squat, squared utility box sat silent and gray for years. Occasionally someone would slap a sticker across it, a flyer advertising a yard sale or a lost cat - black and white, red collar, reward! A niece looked for one the whole of her visit.

    "No, honey, that's Wilhelmina. She's not lost; she lives next door. No, sweetie, that's a tabby. It said, 'Black and white.' No, my love, that's still Wilhelmina."

    The girl went home after the flyer dropped and before the message appeared, the one that rendered me speechless. Since then, I have passed it twice a day, almost every day, for weeks, and each time it gives me pause because I feel the same: I can't believe some day I'm going to die.

    I am not so young as to believe I am invincible. I do take precautions and watch where I direct my feet and my fight, but I still don't believe that someday this will all end. That I will end. That all that remains will be a handful of ashes, of words and photographs.

    Something about seeing the words scrawled on the box drives home the point. I have known people, my age and younger, who have died and I know that none of us can live forever. Having read "Tuck Everlasting" as a child, I don’t even want it. Not even a little. Not really at all.

    Thinking about it as I walk, I realize it's not the dying that scares me but the thought that maybe I have not yet lived. I am not sure I could fit more into the day, but I think about trying as I wait for the day that someone slaps another lost cat sign on the box to make me think about something else for a while.
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