Death Looks Over My Shoulder

It seems like just yesterday that the idea of dying was a far off concept.  Now it is a daily question.  Death looks over my shoulder and says, “you know I’m coming!”  I always say the same thing, “Yes, but not today!” As the quote says, “nobody gets out of this life alive.”  For some of us, however, the imminence of that final breath is much closer than it is for others.  I’ll admit, I’m afraid of dying.  I’ve made my peace with God, but that hasn’t lifted the fear.  In the end I think you just get too tired to fight it anymore.  I’m not “too tired” yet.  I’m still fighting.  I’m still thinking about surviving.  I have things to do.  Places I want to go.  Fish I want to catch.

It sometimes amazes me.  A person can be dying right in front of you and you would never know it. It’s `the same way with pain.  Someone can be in an enormous amount of pain and you may never know.  They don’t complain. They don’t look sick. But they are.  We take them for granted.  I take myself for granted.  I always expect to get back up and keep going.  So far, I have.

What is it that we might expect from others when they see us? I wonder do we want pity?  Understanding?  What is it that others see when they look at us?  Do they really see us at all?  My friends look at me and don’t really see a sick man.  They don’t see a man in pain.  They don’t see the mark of death and so don’t see that slowly, I am dying.  The cancer that has lodged itself in my bones won’t leave.  It will eventually win.  I’m determined to make it take so long that when it does, it won’t really matter anyway.  If not the cancer then old age.  I’m not sure what age that’ll be, but I’ll know it when I get there.  That’s the optimist in me.  I’m going to keep fighting until it just doesn’t matter anymore.  I can’t quit fighting.  I can’t just give up. I don’t want to and besides, I really don’t know how to anyway.

I guess the question is, since we’re all going to end up in the same place anyway, are you ready? Am I ready?  Have you really thought about dying?  Have you really thought about “after?”  We’re told that there is life after death and I really want to believe that.  I worry that there might not be.  I worry that we might just be like bugs.  Squash one and his existence ends.  No after life for bugs.  No heaven for flies.  What will become of me?  Will I still be?  Will I still be me?  Where will I be?  Will I be afraid?  Will there be anyone there?  Where is that anyway?  What’ll happen to my family?

We, all of us, are all going to die.  Where’s the hope in that?  We come into this life.  We struggle; we fight; we love; we live.  And then we die.  Is that all there is? I am so hoping that there is more than that.

When I’m gone there’ll be no grave for me. I refuse to become worm food.  It’s a waste of good ground.  If my soul has left my body there’s no need for a memorial plot.  Who would memorialize me anyway?  I’m not disappointed that I haven’t done great things. I was too busy trying to survive.  I was feeding my family.  I was paying the bills, keeping the lights on.  I didn’t have time for grand triumphs.  I was saving my world, not the whole world.

It occurs to me that this story doesn’t have an end.  At least not one I can imagine.  I am alive today.  I expect to be alive tomorrow.  After that we’ll have to wait and see.

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