Death is a delicate subject we all desperately want to avoid. To explore the unknown comes with a large price to pay- fear. 

It becomes an unbearable burden when we begin to question death and dabble to unravel the mysteries surrounding the end of life as we know it.  We subsist in our individual worlds, some filled with usual routines and conventional rituals, others surviving day by day with unpredictability through a series of unexpected events.  But each of our worlds coexist as one, as we will all face the inevitable one day, whether it finds us today, tomorrow, or in 10 years; and we cannot avoid it. When it’s your time, it’s your time.

The tragedy of young officer Michael Califano, victim of a horrible car crash on the Long Island Expressway in New York, was a devastating shock to his wife, three boys, and the entire squad of The Nassau County Police Department first precinct. This 44-year old man was a loving, kind-hearted, and spirited father, community member, and decorated police officer who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. As Officer Califano was sitting in his patrol car writing a summons for a truck he pulled over, his care was struck by a flatbed tow truck. Although the truck with passengers he pulled over were also at a standstill in front of Officer Califano’s car, waiting for their ticket, somehow, only his car was hit, tragically killing him.

Why should he have to be the one to leave behind 3 young boys, a wife, and an entire squad who relied on him? It’s a complicated thing when we begin to question the unanswered. All we can label this as, is a tragic accident that took the life of a man whose time was up here on earth.

Diane Schuler caused a deadly head-on collision by driving the wrong way on the Taconic State Parkway, in New York, killing eight people, including her 2-year-old daughter and three young nieces.  Known as one of the worst crashes in the New York region in memory, it left behind grieving loved one’s wondering why their young children, innocent bystanders, did not survive.  Yet, Diane’s 5- year old son Bryan was the only sole survivor. Why did he make it and not the other 5 children? Is Bryan more deserving of life than the other kids? Of course this is not true, but any parent would only wonder.

While there are many scientific explanations and medical diagnoses as to why many people face death at a young age, such as Officer’s Califano’s 1 –year daughter who died of a congenital heart disease, it still does not explain why a little girl who did not even have the opportunity to experience more than one year of her life, was taken away from her family. Was it her time as well? Is it the fate of Officer’s Califano’s wife to experience death so many times in her life and literally have her family ripped away from her?

Many of us, based on our spiritual and religious backgrounds, believe fate is the deciding factor in death. It is outside our realm of control and left up to the more powerful or stronger spiritual being we may believe in.

Some believe we were all put on earth for different reasons. Some to become famous celebrities, authors, or dancers, others travel the path of destruction to become drug addicts, junkies, or alcoholics, and majority of us, average everyday people hanging on to materialistic things always wanting more than we already have.

Once we have completed our tasks or fulfilled our sole purposes, then we no longer belong here. So, maybe those five children killed on the Taconic fulfilled their purpose of bringing joy and happiness to their parents for those short few years. Maybe Officer Califano fulfilled his purpose of helping his community as a cop for so many years, and maybe his 1-year daughter fulfilled her purpose of giving her mother the strength to cope with her husband’s death.

The roads we travel, the routes we take, the days we miss from work instead of jumping on the subway and heading into the city, the times we cancel our flight to attend a best friend’s birthday party, or even the slightest movements we make, all play a role in our fate.

Yes, some of us make choices that may ultimately lead to an untimely death, others spend a majority of their lives correcting those mistakes to undue the damage, and some of us just live; but all in all, when’s it’s your time, it’s your time.