Every day at some point I think about dying. Not just death and dying or other people’s death and dying. I think of how I will die, or when I will die. This is not a conversation I am having because I am getting older. No, it’s a conversation that I’ve had with myself since at least the teen years.
I tend to take quiet comfort in it. I meander on all the interesting ways there are to die.
I crossed paths with a man once whose brother died by falling doublewide trailer. Yes, his brother got up one day and decided to fix something underneath his trailer home that had needed fixing for some time. The trailer was propped up on cinder blocks and just fell. At least that’s how the legend goes.
Wow, I thought, now that’s an interesting story to leave behind.
It leaves the people that you love with a fascinating story and a chuckle at the absurdity without all that pesky fear. The likelihood that you could die of falling doublewide trailer is probably a million to one and every time you thought about it, you’d chuckle and think of Ole Uncle Charlie up in heaven because the doublewide fell on him. You might very well see him smiling and tinkering with things like he always loved to do.
No, so many of us are left with the fear that comes with say: cancer or gun violence. Those of us left behind a loved one that died of some ridiculous disease or random act of violence must confront at some point the possibility that it could happen to us as well.
Not that it will, but the fear that is left behind demands the confrontation.
An unspoken part of mourning is the catharsis of our own mortality, or the possibility of losing those we still have left. Nobody really speaks about the sometimes debilitating anticipation of losing the next loved one that comes with trying to process the grief of loss.
For years after my father’s death I imagined where I’d be when I got the call about the loss of my mother. Who’d be there with me, or would I be alone? Luckily it wasn’t for another three decades and I was as well prepared as I could’ve been.
As a child, this was one of the ways I processed my grief. Thinking it through completely and resolving the end by witnessing in my mind, my safety and wellbeing.
Knowing that whenever and wherever it happened that I would be safe and well taken care of.
As it turned out, I was at the sushi bar with a friend not far from my mother’s home. We had just finished dinner. On the short ride back we laughed a little that the most dreaded moment of my life was here. And,indeed, I was safe and well taken care of.
Somewhere along that path, I began to think about my own death and dying. Where I’d be and when. Then I began to think of how I’d like to die. Disease, murder, suicide, and overdose were so trendy.
And then it occurred to me. Do people die of happiness? Well, that’s how I’d like to go.
I’d like to be so @#%! happy I could just die.
So, now every time I think of death, I am reminded of all the things that bring me happiness.