A Story About Death

Let’s talk for a second about death. Because I love it, and one day I’m going to die. And so are you! Isn’t that awesome? There’s something I do sometimes and I encourage other people to do it to: say out loud “I’m going to die.” I do it to free myself when I am feeling trapped– it reminds me that time on this earth is temporary. I think 99% of our lives are spent in either uncousciousess of the idea or denial. It could be an ego thing or a fear thing, but all I know is I’ve always been eager to talk about death but I’m usually dismissed as morbid or depressing. I don’t like to talk about it like “God dude, one day I’m going to die….what’s the point…blah blah blah.” I think talking freely and happily about death can be a very intelligent and healthy conversation to have, it just seems like no one wants to have it.

Well I do. And I realize why I’m like this. I have this very distinct memory of sitting on our back deck in Colorado in August. I was 12. The weather was hot but nice, and my mom and dad, a volumptuous jazz singer named Veronica who sang at our Church among other things, and me were sitting around a patio table sifting through sheet music. You know what we were doing? Picking out funeral music, for my dad’s funeral. He was dying of cancer. Theoretically this is totally depressing. But I’m telling you, it wasn’t! He was in this striped robe, (an awesome robe, I still have it) with his legs folded and laughing and making jokes, and so was my mom and so was Veronica. They set the stage for me emotionally that death is not all bad. They laughed, so I laughed.

My mom and dad sang at the choir in our Church so my dad was particular about the songs he wanted. He didn’t want sad music. And so we played happy music. Beautiful, hopeful, honest music. Veronica sang, and it was perfect. It was just how he wanted it.

So that was my first big experience with death. And I guess being so young and seeing someone that you expect to have around forever slowly leave, makes you examine your own immortality. It’s not so much that I care how I’m going to die, I just worry whether I’m “doing it right” while I’m here. I don’t know when I’ll die, and I want to make sure I’m staying in the moment. I want to be conscious. (Insert some quote about dance like no ones watching )

Wait, that last part is a lie. I TOTALLY wonder how I will die. Not in an obsessive way but out of simple curiosity. Although for a solid year all I did was dream about the possible ways that I would die. There was a lot of falling out of airplanes and a lot of not being able to breathe and a lot a lot a lot of tornados. Ick. Then one day after my health really plumetted in Jaunary of this year I was talking about my fear of death with my mom. Some days I really felt like I was dying, but it had been a fear I’d had for a while. I told her I wasn’t so scared conceptually of it, but I was scared of the pain of it. My dreams were really stressful; I was always closing my eyes and clenching my teeth as the plane went down waiting for the pain to hit me. My mom stopped me and said “Mary, you’re in pain everyday. You’ve been sick for years. Dying can’t be any worse than what you’ve been through?” And then we started talking about how life is the hard part. This is the painful part. Death will be exciting. It will be incredible.

After that I was able to let some of my fear about death go. I still do think about it a lot. I really wonder what is next. If there is a next. (I know there is a next. I know it!) What will it look like. And what will I be without a body? I could go on and on and this is what I think about when I go to sleep so sorry for the death spill on aisle 6, but I just felt like talking about it. Or typing about it.

Anyway I guess I am just hoping that if it’s a week before I die, I can sit outside like my dad did and laugh about my funeral and plan it with family and friends and know that I have loved and I am loved. Those are the things that will outlast me.

So what’s the point in all this? The point is: You’re going to die! And that’s great news! I’m going to die too. And we’ll see each other again, in other blogospheres, in other bodies. But we’ll have all the lessons and love that we’ve acquired while we were here. That’s what I think Heaven is. Something like that.

Health, Happiness, and You’re Going to Die! Smile!

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2 thoughts on “A Story About Death

  1. Good on you for tackling this tabu subject. I seem to have more lives than a cat and am conscious of my mortality, some times extremely conscious. I particularly worry about how my kids will get through it but another year goes by and they get another year older. They are now 10 and 8 and I’ve been sick since my youngest was born. It was reassuring to read your perspective about your Dad and that you got through it. We keep pretty active as a family and try to cherish the time we have. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way. We are a normal family…fights etc but there is that conscious awareness of the need to make the most of our time together…carpe diem seize the day, which in our case can mean that doing less, means more. x Rowena

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  2. I thought you might find it amusing that Titus and Grant right now are obsessed with what Heaven is like. One day in the car, Titus and I got to talking about the fact that Grandpa would die one day and he got really sad and almost started crying. So I started telling him how great it will be when we die and how lucky Grandpa will be to have a new body and be able to meet God and so on… Well, ever since then, they are asking questions and telling me what they think Heaven will be like :) The other day Titus said he can’t wait to go to Heaven and be able to go mountain biking because even if he falls off his bike he won’t get hurt! He was so excited! Anyway, thought you would enjoy that… You should definitely talk to them about it next time you see them. They’re so fun!!!
    Love ya!

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