My unfiltered thoughts about everything.
I spend quite a lot of this blog space explaining my views on death. It maintains a thread within my posts that I don’t necessarily intend. Even in funnier diatribes, and in the political pieces, I somehow always find myself returning to mortality. It’s a trend, for sure. There’s just something about it, gets me feeling all Hemingway inside, sans the suicidal part. I worry that sometimes, despite my best efforts, I might come off as being intentionally morbid. Nothing could be further from the truth. I view life as nothing short of miraculous, beautiful and intoxicating. I am daily spellbound by even the most mundane of goings on. I’d like to think I’ve always been one to “stop and smell the roses”.
That said, the past six years have been a season of hard growth for me, as much so my family. We’ve lost some people in our fold that were more than pieces to the puzzle. They were more like the foundations of our life, those that took care to see us through the years, kept us all together. When the folks at the epicenter of your day to day existence begin to die, its an avalanche of reality. You are suddenly more aware of your own fragility than ever before. As a child, when people die, you’re shielded to a certain extent. Some of the ugliness is kept from you. As an adult, it sometimes unfolds like a waking nightmare. You feel lost in the days, like you’re stumbling around in the dark for a light switch, but all your hands touch are knives.
When my Grandmother died, we’d spent a year watching her descend. It was a slow, doomed wait for something we all tried to pretend wouldn’t happen. We locked ourselves in the moments as we lived them, trying to live inside those days while we still had the chance. As I look back now, I can see the self deception, the pain uncomfortably caged in some corner of my sub conscious. It was the first truly awful thing that’s happened to me as an adult, and it will color every other bad thing that ever does. That’s just the unholy truth of it. But, to my own surprise, it hasn’t left me emotionally crippled or riddled me with spiritual bullet holes.
Her death, compounded by a few others, forced me to take stock of everything about myself, my dreams, my fears, faith and the longing I had for the woman I love. It forced me to comprehend not just the “here and now”, but that stretch later on, when old age and the realities of dying become all too real. I began to see death not so much as a deterrent to enjoying life, but as a REASON to live. It became more a book end than a grim reaper.
In the last year or two, I’ve come to take death as a healthy reminder of human purpose. I managed to graduate college with a degree I’m very proud of. I got married last year, took on the challenge of a cross country move, lived out some romantic escapism, and came home a very different person. For the first time in my life, the idea of dying took on an artful, sort of poetic aura. There’s a relaxed sense that the things that will be…..WILL BE. I find myself oddly at ease with that. When I look at my wife, I see the children we’ll have, and the lives they will lead. I see myself, sometime down the road, maybe as an old man. He’s got a cup of coffee, and he’s reading a book. He’s wiser. He speaks a little softer. He loves a little deeper. But, his greatest achievement is the contentment he feels with what he’s done, and the love he feels for those around him. Death, for all its magnitude, isn’t much ever on his mind. He dealt with that mountain in his twenties, and he never looked back.