All good things must come to an end,” Mother used to intone whenever, as a small girl, I balked at leaving off some delightful activity or grieved at the departure of a favorite guest.

Ours is a family given to truisms of this sort: handsome is as handsome does; it never rains but it pours; the apple never falls far from the tree; in the dark all cats are gray. These once maddened me, but now I can see that some do actually hint at cosmic truths. All things good and bad--life itself, that ultimate mixed blessing--must indeed come to an end.

We are in essence transitory beings. The other day I heard a radio interview with a biologist who insisted that death is scientifically unnecessary and that before long we will discover how to live forever.

I shuddered. Although I can’t imagine what creatures might emerge as a result of immortality, I feel sure that they wouldn’t be human. Our humanity, for better and worse, depends upon limits and loss.


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