I've had some vivid reminders of death lately. A few relatives are slowly declining in health. Another few are not quite as lucky. I had a saddening but somehow touching instance at work today:

A middle-aged woman walked into the library with a small child by her side and several books under her arm. She set them down on the counter top and turned as if to walk away, but paused instead. The little girl looked up at me from below the counter with a look that I can remember so clearly now. It was as if she was sad, but there was some blankness behind the expression that seemed to indicate that she didn't quite understand what was happening. She only knew that she should not have been happy just then. When I saw her, I could tell that they weren't there just to return books.

When I put my hand on the first book, a glossy cover with some indistinguishable title and eyes that looked up at me, the woman started to speak. "My daughter used to go here," she said "but she passed away. I was going through her things, and thought that you might like these back." The woman looked down, as if about to cry. "I've returned them to you now. I'm sorry that they are a few years late."
I haven't written in a while. Amongst various reasons, I'm in a bit of a rough spot. I've started countless drawings and paintings, but I haven't been able to bring myself to finish them. My next two weeks are filled with final exams and projects, and to top it off I'm still undecided about where to go next year.

Despite the constant confusion, I'm incredibly happy. I'm not certain that much has changed but my outlook. Perhaps I'm just happy to have something to hope for, as distant as it may be. As strange as this may seem, I've never really wanted anything before now.
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