Thoughts about Death

When I was younger, I used to be so much more outspoken. If I was upset by something someone did, I let them know in the most forthright (and sometimes belligerent) terms. My friends christened me “Our Lady of the Two-by-Four” for the force with which I would address a problem.

I have lost some of that as I’ve grown older. I think this is for several reasons; first I have gained some consideration of others’ feelings and believe that the two-by-four is less effective than the — I have become trapped in my own extended metaphor and will get back to you later. Second, I understand the complexity of situations enough to know that I don’t see the complexity with ease, and especially when I’m in the emotional state where I want to express myself right away. Third, because society has conditioned me to keep quiet about what is bothering me, because that’s a sign of something not right.

I have let the latter rule me too long, having spoken obliquely in my post yesterday, not talking from my heart.

My dad is 86. He’s in hospice. I don’t think he is doing well. He’s … fading. Logically, I know that 86 is a good old age, and that people die. I would not stand in the way of a good, humane death and I know hospice does those well.

But I think about death and its starkness and my reluctant belief that there’s nothing on the other side. Not that I mind that too much; I will not be around for it, so to say. It’s just that looking at the finity of life from this end is jarring; the very notion that there will be an end to my cognitive and sensory partaking of the world chills me.

Maybe I’m wrong and we get another chance in the afterlife, but then, what would distinguish it from this one? I know I have many stupid things left in me; what is an afterlife for if I keep my stupid deeds? Alternately, if we became all-wise in our transition from the world, what would we live for? And doesn’t life, by definition, include pain that our dreams of the afterlife exclude?

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on

I’m almost 60. I maybe have 30 years left; probably less. This is the life I get, so if I’m unhappy about anything, I get to settle it here. If I want to experience moments of bliss, I have to find them here. It sounds like an Ebenezer Scrooge epiphany; it feels like a trudge through dusty clay. Outside there’s a perfect autumn day beckoning me, and that’s where I need to be, away from the corridors of my mind and into life.

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