Tuesday, July 26, 2016

We have become comfortable with the idea that we're going to die

In the past few years, most especially in the last ten years since Cliff had open-heart surgery, he and I have talked openly about our own deaths with no problem.  I rather like being comfortable with death, as opposed to being filled with dread at the very thought.  

I recall when my parents got to this point:  They bought their tombstones and had them placed on the graves they'd previously purchased.  In fact, Mother took pictures of their future resting-place that she took pride in showing friends and relatives.  The only thing lacking was the date-of-death on the headstones... and of course their bodies, their earthen vessels, not yet laying beneath the sod.

Mother really got carried away:  She wrote her own obituary, designated who would sing at her funeral (20 years later he couldn't be located), and even picked out the songs for her funeral.

This seemed odd to me, at the time, but I can't say it really freaked me out.  It just seemed silly.  
I have no memorial-service plans; I leave that to those left behind.  I've told them to just do whatever makes them feel best.  I don't really care what anybody does with my ashes, either.  I do have just the slightest desire for someone to put a headstone in the town cemetery with mine and Cliff's name, so anyone walking by it will realize we once existed.  I've always loved strolling through graveyards, reading the names and dates.  However, I won't know about it, so if they want to skip it, that's OK with me too.  Here's a little video I took while riding my horse, Blue (may he rest in peace), through the Wellington cemetery.  The song is written and sung by Loudon Wainwright III.  

But I digress...

I get up hours earlier than Cliff, and it isn't uncommon for me, as I pass through the bedroom, to check and see if he's still breathing.  He's done the same with me, he says.  Because even though we aren't all that old (71 and 72, I'm the oldest), we know it could (will?) happen that one morning, either of us might have shuffled off this mortal coil while the other was sleeping.  Now, if I think too much about this as I pause to listen for Cliff's breathing, it does freak me out a little:  What if, this time, he IS dead?  ACK!  

Here's what really amuses me:  Relatives don't want to hear us say anything that suggests we don't plan on living forever.  The oldest grandson thinks it's downright morbid to mention the farm sale that will be held after either or both of us die.  Cliff has not-so-young relatives that are just as bad... "I know I'm going to die, but I don't want to talk about it."

So, talking about death will make it happen?  Really?  

I don't know where I was going with this entry.  I guess I'm just putting words to my thoughts to see if I can figure out why anybody past the age of sixty wouldn't want to face reality and get comfortable with the idea of death.  

Once you have accepted that a person's life on this earth doesn't last that long, you can wake up every morning thanking God for just one more day, knowing we have a limited number of days.  Why go around trembling and sticking your head in the sand every time somebody mentions a thing that is going to happen to all of us?

Donna Wood 12/15/2015
With thanks to Tai Sheridan for the thoughts

Embrace what lies ahead of you.
Enjoy the earth and sky.
Don't clench your fists and cling to things:
Relax. You're going to die.

Whatever comes your way, accept.
Let others ask the “why”.
Don't fight a thing that's part of life:
Relax. You're going to die.

You truly won the lottery
With your first, newborn cry.
There's nothing left for you to fear:

Relax. You're going to die.


Margaret said...

As I told my friend Henry, I'm comfortable with death, but not necessarily the process of dying, after watching what Patt went through. My girls don't want me to talk about it either. My brother can't stand it when my nearly 88 year old and 84 year parents discuss their deaths. He wants them to live forever.


We are all born to die, it's true. I used to say back in the 60's it's the BIGGEST high there is, otherwise why did they save it for last. LOVE the poem.

Patricia Anne said...

Now I see what your post was saying Donna. I love it. So true,
we can get comfortable with the idea. I as one am very comfortable with my thoughts on knowing I am going to die and I know that I will be with my JESUS. There has to be a better place where there is peace. Thank you for the reminder.