Monday, January 09, 2006

A Form of Grief

I can't help but think about death a lot lately. It's not just that Mabel passed away; it had already been on my mind, especially during my wakeful nights. I lie there, on my back, and I think that's how people die — on their backs, I mean. Not everybody, I'm sure, but I've been on three vigils in my life, watching helplessly as loved ones slip slowly away. And they all, all three of them, died on their backs.


They all were really gone before they breathed their last. They were certainly in a coma-like twilight zone. Of the three, my mother was the only one who had a brief moment of consciousness near the end. She opened her eyes, and it was clear that she perceived us even though she was unable to speak.


And I lie there in my wakefulness and wonder. I wonder if I will know that I am on my death bed. I can picture trying to smile reassuringly at my loved ones with my last bit of strength, trying to give them a final gift, the only one that I can possibly give. I think that maybe I'll find the strength to blink three times, and maybe they'll know that it means, "I love you." Sometimes, I even imagine that I might summon the wherewithal to give a final thumbs-up.


It doesn't make me happy to think on these things, but I do. How can I not think on this as I creep closer and closer to entering my seventh decade? I miss myself if that makes any sense. The little candle of life that is I will be forever extinguished, and that's got to be somewhat sad-making — a form of grief, I guess.


 

17 comments:

Gina said...

Sometimes I wonder if we don't think enough about death.

And I don't mean that in a negative way.

Turtle Guy said...

Isn't it interesting how we go through most of life not really giving any thought to the fact that we're mortal. I think we get the sense that "we're still young - lots of years ahead!" And I think once we reach a certain age, we start "doing the math" based on aveerages. "Oh, I'm over 60 - must mean I'm on the downward trend" when in reality we could breathe our last at ANY moment. In reality it's best to let those whom we care about KNOW that we care. Today's the day we live, tomorrow (may) never come(s).

My second cousin (once removed) asked me for a ride back from Seattle back in 01. He knew his Mom was ill, but did he have any idea that he would have a WONDERFUL visit with her the day after his arrival, and the next day she would move on? Almost freaky, but I found it VERY interesting how I played a part in such a close call.

There's a James Keelaghan tune called "Everyone Dies". I'll post about it - see what you think...

Dale said...

But there's a little candle of "Light" that is you, AC, your essence. It is pure energy and cannot be extinguished. Bless you, friend!

Judy said...

Ah, but your BLOG will live on!

Truly the people from whom I've learned the most as far as forming my thoughts and shaping my ideas were dead before I'd ever known they had lived.

Yet, they passed on something good.

madcapmum said...

I've been thinking more about death lately, too, and I'm 35. It's not entirely comfortable, but the further I get from the "this OR that" thinking of my younger years, the more peace I can uncover. I think this kind of pensiveness gives the life we're living more tang, even if it's got a bitter edge.

Or it could be that it's just too darn dark outside and I need spring to come.

-epm said...

Isn't it interesting how we go through most of life not really giving any thought to the fact that we're mortal.

How profoundly true. And when the notion of mortality does come into our orbit of concern, how obsessively some of us pursue a vain quest for immortality. As if Death is any more mutable than the rising of the sun or ebbing of the tides.

Some people seem to believe it doesn't matter so much how we treat each other in this life, because their God will forgive their sins for the asking, and His judgment will then be kind. I believe in a forgiving God as well. It's just that I think we're judged before we're forgiven. Also, I don't think God looks kindly on those who use his forgiving nature as a salvation loop-hole -- a morning after prayer for less than charitable living.

This is what keeps me away at night: have I done enough for others, or have I been too selfish?

Simply Coll said...

I found that the death of my father had me questioning both life and death. I think his loss made me hope that our death is not an ending .. but a mere continuation. The truth is we will never have the answers until we experience it ourselves. The whole experience of life is such a miracle I have to believe that the same will hold true for our passing.

Christi said...

I went to my family reunion yesterday, and the notion of death came to mind. My grandma comes from a family with ten brothers and sisters, of which she's the youngest. I remember back when I was little, we would go and there would be tons of grandmas and grandaddies there. Now it's less the grandparents, and more the grandchildren and their new babies. It was a little sad to think that so many of the siblings have passed away (I think there are three or four left, possibly five). My grandaddy is in the late stage of Alzheimer's, and the spunkiest most fun little old lady I can remember being there all my life now has total dimensia, and might as well not have been there. It was upsetting to see. However, at the same time I was thinking about how they are all so close to death, I was thinking about how the reunion will live on and keep going from year to year with the new families. You could already see a dynamic turn in how it went yesterday as compared to how it used to go, and it was kind of neat to see how times change just in my own relatively short life.

So what I think I'm trying to say is, yeah, death sucks. However, death brings new life, and it carries on the old lives in the new lives, and that's really cool.

mreddie said...

It seems that this subject has crossed my mind more than once lately. It's not that I feel old, even though I will be 65 this next April, in fact that part really doesn't occur to me until I look in the mirror. That is somewhat of a shock at times. :)

But even these thoughts are not of horror, but of curiosity and wondering what the experience will be like. My faith tells me that I will be going to be with my Friend and that is a great comfort, but I'm still curious. ec

Bonita said...

I've been with quite a few people when they transitioned into death. It was very peaceful, a resignation. You address an important topic today. The end is uncertain, but as I saw it, always peaceful.

Linda said...

There is much to ponder in both your blog and the comments. Have you had an opportunity to read "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" by Mitch Albom? It is an interesting read and a very unique way to look at death.

Lisa said...

I think what you mean. Recently, my MIL's husband died. I knew, but never really firsthand before, that an auto accident could kill someone. But when you see it, reality hits you and you realise that we actually are not going to live forever and someday, you will face that final moment.

The only thing that bothers me about death is the dragging on of it. If you're in an accident, for example, how long does the end take to arrive... and what purpose is there to that?

Of course, it makes sense not to dwell on that stuff. Live life, I say. Make sure everyone you care about knows that you care. In the end, you'll have no worries.

Heather said...

I just caught sight of your quote of the day in the sidebar after reading your post. It seems rather appropriate - the best we can hope for when we reach our final good-bye is that we've led a life of purpose.

Debbie V. said...

This post is so "stunning" - I am not sure what to say except that I like it. I like thinking about these things - even death (as long as it is not at night when I am in bed). I also just read your post about Mabel. You are so blessed to have known such people.

George Breed said...

Hey good brother! Thank you for your reflections. Am moving on toward 70 myself and find it odd since I'm a boy "inside." I find my death an ally, calling attention to the preciousness of now. Whichever one of us "goes" first, I am quite happy to know you. Love.

Mel said...

I've been moping around and missed reading your blog for a few days . . . and you've been pondering death. Imagine that. And here I thought I was the only one!

Valerie - Riding Solo said...

Death is a release. It is not to be feared. All the troubles, problems, hurts, losses, debts, failures and saddness pass away from you. You are freed from them, released of your responsibilities.

It is a joyous crossing over into an unknown place as the true, purified and distilled self you are.

There is no fear there, nothing to fear there. You send your loved ones one last thought of how much you cared for them and wish them the best of lives then reach for the total absence of pain and grief and move on.

But I was returned. No bearded man explained it to me, no trumpeter re-directed me. I was given the privelige of seeing there is something there and sent back to deal with life again.

I do not crave death, I am happy here, but I do not fear dying for myself or my loved ones.