Lately I’ve tooled around with the idea of death-my own. There are many reasons why I would. Turning on the news brings images of horrendous devastation, in a month or so it will be the anniversary of my sister’s death and so on. I’ve also been a nurse for the last many, many years and have been at death’s bedside in some shape or form in what seems like always. I’ve had close one’s die, the earliest being my slightly older sister when I was eleven. The last was my mother’s, a little over a decade ago. I loved them dearly. With all the deaths I’ve encountered, I’ve leant myself to them in some way, physical, mental, emotional and, especially, spiritual.
I recently completed the Brooklyn Half-Marathon (13.1 miles of all of you non-runners). I finished exhausted. I’d over trained and didn’t enjoy it as I usually do. I told my partner that if I were ever to die running and she overheard someone mention that’s just how I would want it, that she should deny it for me. I told her that I’d much prefer to die propped on pillows autographing my published books for my fans. If by some chance I hadn’t been published and any one said that I hadn’t realized my dream, that she should argue that point too. One of the last editors that I sent my manuscript to may not have taken my book, but she took me under her wing. That was enough, I realized. Yes, I still want to be published the old-fashioned way, but I have received more with my rejections than I could ever have thought possible. As my brain streamed along the points I want clarified after my death, I decided I wanted my children to know that there is no third sibling, half or otherwise lurking about waiting to cash in on their meager inheritance. They could feel free to fight over paying my debts as much as they want to, together!
I realize that my death anxiety comes from a lack of control and powerlessness of how things will be. Not, I see, in the future, but in my past. I’m not so worried about whether I have to hang out at St. Peter’s gate until I come up with a good joke. If I’m in pain, I trust that some good doctor or nurse will load me with analgesics until I float. Whether my death is sudden or slow, I believe that with the support I have, that somehow I will persevere until I cross to the other side. I’ve decided not to worry about meeting my mother at the pearly gates and that she will complain that I spent too much money I things I didn’t need. Or that my sister might say, “You shouldn’t have done that when you were fifteen, thank the heavens I was your guardian angel and got you out of that scrape.”
Since I have no idea what my last day will be like, I am choosing to live until I die. I say that with the humor and love and deep appreciation for all those who have gone before me, in fear, in grace and acceptance. I have faith that I will be taken care of and the petty thoughts that consume me will be put to rest. I keep all of those who are in the pain of experiencing the death of their loved ones, anticipated or otherwise, in my heart. I pray for all of those who are in the process of crossing over and are in the pain of leaving the ones they love behind. This topic is so much bigger than a thought, a phrase, or a paragraph. For some reason I’ve been moved to address it and I have. For me, living means taking action an sharing what is important to me. I have so much love for so many people, that I want them to know that I am happy, have no regrets and wish them as full and as useful a life as I’ve had up until now. I hope I can read this blog in thirty or forty years and remember how I felt and what I was thinking today. If not, today is enough.