I have faced death many times in my life. I have experienced it, watched it and heard about it. I have heard a thousand ways a person deals with the grief of losing a love one. Some people walk away unscathed and others mourn for years and even some never fully recover from it.
I can’t say anything too wonderful about death, but I can say there is something truly beautiful about it. While some death is ugly and unnecessary, other times it is just that final step in life.
I sat at my dying grandfather’s bed for over two hours today with my little brother while my grandma went out and spent time with my parents. He was so small and frail. He slept most of the time and I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do. It was nice to be there and be with my brother.
He used to be larger than life to me. He was the patriarch of my family. He would sit at the head of the table and dictate the conversations. I remember him in a brown cowboy hat helping sheep give birth and leading an asshole of a pony named Applejack around by the reins. He had a portrait painted of him in a regal pose as president of Lewis & Clark College and he seemed immortal to me, even as a young child.
I hate seeing him in such pain and almost wasting away, but he has accepted his fate. He told me he is ready to die. As strange as it was to say something like that I couldn’t help by understand.
I faced the possibility of dying early myself this past week and I couldn’t help but think how I was nowhere near ready to die. My grandfather has already left a legacy and I haven’t even started. I don’t necessarily want to leave the same kind of legacy as my grandfather, but I want to leave behind something. Most of my “work” has been anonymous and in a small community, but I’m confident I have something to give the world.
I just fell in love and I don’t want it to be for only a few years and with me in pain and incapable of taking care of myself. I want the joy of growing old with someone and sharing my life with that person. There is so much that I want to experience and I now can’t imagine doing any of it alone.
My grandfather is always saying how lucky he is to have my grandmother in his life. That’s how I want to be when I enter the twilight of my life. To never lose that gratitude for the friends and family I have had around me.
I don’t have a belief that anything happens after a person dies. Not believing in an afterlife doesn’t make death any scarier. I don’t feel a need to be rewarded or punished for living a life a certain way. I try my best. I didn’t always try my best, but now I feel a certain satisfaction with life because of all my earlier failures and regrets. The afterlife is what the people that remember you feel about you.
There is nothing like death to bring a family closer together.
It isn’t the ritual of someone dying, it is helping all the living deal with grief. I am strong, so I can be the one that supports the people that need the extra grief and need the sadness and the tears. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being sad and showing it when a love one passes.
I do have a problem with people turning grief into attention for one’s self. I wrote a blog earlier about that.
There has been a lot of people I know that died way before their time. People that made terrible life choices that led them to death’s embrace and other people have been so good and so kind and were stricken with disease or another person’s terrible life choice. I become nostalgic for the people I have loss sometimes and it breaks my heart. Some people I know my age have only known a few people who have died, but I don’t hang out with people with long life spans. I hang out with the winos, the junkies, gamblers, internally sad and the losers.
Death happens. I can’t do anything to prolong what will certainly happen. After dealing with some death experiences myself, I find myself not in fear of death, but I wish now for a longer fruitful life.