I didn’t think I was still bothered by death. We’re not unacquainted, after all.
I thought I had more equanimity about the process.
I can talk the talk.
We’re dying from the moment we’re born. We’re mortal. The clock starts ticking the moment we first draw breath. None of us knows when our time is up. Death isn’t a tragedy; it’s simply a function of life. Knowing our time is limited is the thing that sets the spurs, inspires us, pushes us on to accomplishment. Death comes for us all. It’s inevitable and it’s mostly not in our control. It’s the reality of life.
I’ve repeated this spiel in various incarnations to both myself and others frequently over the years, in lesser and greater detail. And yet, when my eighty-year-old father kept returning to the hospital this past week, I found myself lacking calm. I was not comforted by the fact that worrying about things out of my control is futile.
I think perhaps I don’t fully accept that some things I want to control are beyond me.
My father’s doing well for eighty-years-old. There are a few issues. He’s had a few bouts with cancer. He had a replacement heart valve put in a few years back. He doesn’t drink enough and his chronic dehydration creates problems. He has early-stage COPD. They discovered a small growth in his brain this week. The inevitable end is no longer decades in the distance.
I’m no longer able to hide.
I didn’t like it when my friend’s parents started to die. I did the things one does. I was comforting. I was supportive. My friends and I had many conversations about it. I thought I’d accepted the reality of this stage of life. I thought I’d come to terms with the fact that my parents are closer to the end than the beginning.
I was not at all sanguine this weekend. I’m more used to poor health from my mother. She lost her pancreas to a virus thirty years ago, bringing on type one diabetes in a few short weeks. Since then, I’ve learned that diabetes is a total bitch. It’s so much more than unstable blood sugars. It eats the body, destroys the circulation, shortens the life.
It’s easier to contemplate my own end. It’s a familiar topic. The thought of being dead makes me a bit sad, which is progress. I think I’d miss the things I’d miss, beyond my son who used to be my only tether. The potential grief others might experience should I go also bothers me. But the truth of our mortality is easier to accept regarding myself.
I don’t find it easy at all to contemplate my parents’ deaths.
I don’t want to let go.
I don’t want it to be out of my control.