I guess I have always known. There was never a great epiphany about being mortal and having to align myself with the thought of death.
I can remember one time my family took a trip up to Maryland to visit my great grandmother. I suppose she wasn’t doing too well. I was extremely young, five, maybe six, so the details aren’t all that clear.
I can remember visiting her in the hospital. I remember all of the adults around the bed chatting. Making small talk that didn’t matter, and even then I can remember how I thought it was trivial. They weren’t saying what they were really feeling. Everyone was faking, hiding, and even then I could see it. In the tightness around their eyes, how the smiles didn’t reach their eyes at all.
I suppose the reason this visit sticks out to me so clearly is because that was the only time I can remember my great grandmother. I have no other memory of this person other than seeing her in the hospital bed. I have not emotional connection to her. It is purely biological. It was like visiting a stranger for me. I remember being bored.
I remember her trying to eat pudding by sipping on the end of a spoon as if it were a straw and not understanding why she was doing that. That’s not how spoons worked. I remember watching her and observing how she didn’t seem to be fully there. I think that’s when I realized deterioration was part of life.
Five-year-old-brain: This happens. It is natural. Information absorbed and cataloged away for later use. K. Are there coloring books? Can I go outside? What’s for lunch?
A few weeks later my mom sat my brother and I down in the living room and explained that my great grandmother had died. I remember not really feeling much of anything. I knew she was gone. I remember still thinking of her as a stranger, and that even though I ‘should’ feel something deep, I didn’t. I remember thinking maybe it was for the best, a picture of her sipping at the spoon in my mind. All things must end. Deterioration is natural. Her death was inevitable. Why should there be sadness?
As for my own mortality, as I said, I guess I’ve always known or felt it.
There is a part of me who has always believed that I will die at a fairly young age. At least young for today’s standards. I don’t have a number. It’s not like I can see the future. I don’t know how, why, or when.
It’s just a feeling, like so many other things have been in my life. I don’t have a reason for feeling this way. It’s just something that I have always felt. Something that has always been there, like having brown hair, or blue eyes. It’s has always been a part of me, this feeling.
I don’t think I will out live my mom. And while most people will read that and think I’m weird, depressed, morbid, mentally messed up in some way, whaterver, I accept it and move on with my day, giving it no more thought than breathing, unless, that is, there happens to be a prompt that I feel inclined to write about.
For me death is part of the cycle, and I want to experience all of it. Even the end. I try to live life fully every day. I try to make the choices that I want, rather than what I feel will make other people happy. It’s my life. It could end at any moment. I want to be happy in the end. At least as happy as I can make myself.
That’s why my job bothers me at the moment. I spend hours agitated and trapped feeling. Hours that I can’t get back. I don’t like that. That doesn’t line up with my priorities. That’s why I’m trying to fix it.
I’m going to die. Everyone, eventually, will die. That’s a fact. Cold, detached logic. Why waste energy feeling bad or sad over something that cannot change?
Instead I choose to invest that energy into living. Experiencing. Tasting. Touching, Smelling. Doing. Being. Feeling. Influencing my sphere to make the world a better place one small ripple at a time.
Eventually the Earth will be swallowed by the sun and everything we are will be reduced back to the nothingness we originated from. We don’t worry about that though. It’s so far in the future it doesn’t matter.
I hardly know what I will be doing, where I will be going, in the next hour, much less in however many years when I die. It is an unknown, yes, but so is tomorrow. So is a million years from now.
We don’t fear Monday morning. We don’t fear waking up to a new day.
Death, for me, is just another part of a journey. A new day. A new chapter. A new adventure which will be whatever it will be. Worrying about it, fearing it, will not change it or make it not happen. Fear of the future will only detract from my now. And even though my now is a little rough, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I will live life. I will be true to myself. And when I die, whenever that happens to be, I will be happy. That’s enough for me.