There's nothing that teaches you more about the frailty of mortality than seeing one of your parents lying helpless in a hospital bed.
Last Monday, my dad fell off the roof above our porch (about 15 feet above the ground) and was rushed to the emergency room. Fortunately, I wasn't there to see it happen (Cole was the first on the scene, and he's still having nightmares about it), but the image in my mind still makes me shudder. My dad was eventually transferred to IMC (lovingly called "the Death Star" in my family), where he stayed until Saturday afternoon. We eventually found out that he broke 7 ribs on his right side, which, all things considered, is pretty lucky for how he fell. Because of the pain, he hasn't been breathing very deeply, so he's been on oxygen, which ages him about 35 years. He looks so frail and vulnerable, which seriously scares me.
Parents are supposed to be invincible! I know that eventually children reach a point where they understand that their parents will one day die. But, I think there's a subtle difference between understanding the mortality of one's parents and realizing it, a difference that doesn't surface until one loses or comes close to losing a parent. I met that difference head-on last week.
My dad isn't even 50 yet, so to see him so seriously injured was a complete shock. I realize, not just understand, that my parents will one day be gone, and I think I'll be better equipped to handle that when it comes. Until then, I'm going to cherish every moment I have with them and never let them forget that I love them. I implore everyone else to do the same.