"Life — and I don't suppose I'm the first to make this comparison — is a disease: sexually transmitted, and invariably fatal." ~Neil Gaiman
I've hit a strange and somewhat depressing season in my life: a significant percentage of my father's siblings are dying off.
Now, before I go any further, I should offer some counter-perspective: my father himself seems healthy; he had heart surgery some years ago, but he pulled through just fine and seems to just keep moving along. Similarly, my mother suffered a broken arm a couple of years back, but she's as close to fully recovered as it's possible to get, and seems healthy as a horse otherwise. Admittedly, she had polio as girl, and her legs are paralyzed; so any long-term forecasts for her health should keep in mind that there just isn't much information on how post-polio affects long-term lifespan and quality of life. Still, my parents look set to continue on indefinitely. The same is true for my dad's younger brother, and my mom's two sisters.
Still... a couple of weeks ago, one of my uncles died. He wasn't actually a blood relation - he was married to my dad's sister - but he'd been part of the family for so long that he might as well have been. Dad's older brother is still in a holding pattern with some sort of circulatory/pulmonary issue, which leaves him physically listless and mentally incoherent. He can still talk, but it's very slow, and it's sometimes hard to tell if he's answering a question you actually asked; he isn't always oriented in terms of place and time. He's currently set to have the doctors remove some sort of circulatory blockage, assuming they can find it, and assuming it's the sort of thing they think it is; but even if he survives that, I really don't expect him to last another year.
His wife is in better shape, but only slightly; she has cancer, in her lungs and elsewhere. It's responding to chemotherapy, in the sense that it has stopped spreading; but it isn't retreating, either. They're continuing treatment, but again I'm going to be surprised (albeit pleasantly) if she survives another year.
So basically, we're losing about a third of that generation on that side of the family. And... I'm not sure exactly how to describe my response to this. Because on the one hand, yes, it's sad - but I'm mainly sad for my father, not myself. I'm not especially scared by it, either; I mean, I'm not ignoring it, but it hasn't provoked any particular moral or philosophical crisis in my life. It's just sort of there.
I feel like I really ought to have something more profound to say about it than that, but I don't.