On death...

My first brush with death was as a 6 year old. I was home with just my mom and the news was on in her bedroom.  The president was announcing that our country just declared war. In my young mind, I didn't know much about what this meant but I did know this - people were going to die. I stood facing the TV and tears came as I mourned for lives cut too short. I laid in bed, unable to sleep that night as a new certainty entered my life - I was going to die.

Death has always been a somewhat constant in my life. First there was an uncle, followed by two grandparents, followed by another uncle, another grandparent, an aunt, too many church friends lost to cancer than I can count, the all-consuming loss of Talmage, and the recent tragedy involving my brother and his wife.

The other day I was speaking with a friend and I said "It is a wonder to me that we don't all walk around wearing black in a constant state of mourning. We are going to die. Our loved ones are going to die. The fact that we have to live knowing that truth is just too much at times."

I have thought a lot on mortality lately and have came to one heartbreaking conclusion that we humans are insanely fragile creatures.  I feel each day that I live in a shadow of a throat-obstructing penny, a backing-up vehicle, a misfire of a heart valve, an incurable disease. The mere thought that I will spend the rest of my life burying those I love has been driving me to the point of insanity. (And this is me - a firm believer in a beautiful afterlife. I don't understand how the unbelievers of the world do it.)

As I have tried to find a way to cope with this madness that is my current obsession - I've turned to my cure-all... books. It's as though if I can read enough about how us mortals deal with our mortality than maybe it won't be scary. If I can understand that for thousands upon thousands of years, we have been saying long goodbyes to those we love, that maybe it will make it easier for me. 

So I have become that crazy lady who carries doom and gloom titles in her bag, like The Death Class, Smoke gets in your Eyes: Tales from the Crematory, and Mourning Diary. Sometimes at the library, as I set my weekly allotment of sad books on the counter, I think that I can almost see the the wheels turning on the bespectacled face of the librarian, "Wow - this girl has issues." 

And maybe I do. It is the same issue that came into my life when I was six - death is a certainty. But unlike that young version of myself whose fear was myopic, focused solely on me, I am going to die, it has grown bigger than that. I accept my own demise. There is no fear for me in that. That is not the issue. The thing that I am still trying to work out, the one that pulls me to the graves of strangers at the cemetery, the one that makes it so I can't read the news because the grief of the world will swallow me whole, the one that makes me cry while I run, "Why David? Why?" is this - everyone else is going to die.

And we are left here to live. 

And how are we to live with so many holes in our heart.


Kara Bowman said...

I have no words to add but agreement. I love you and we are in this together Forever!

Jo said...

The holes in our hearts are full of memories.