I’m scared to die. They have an actual phobia for something like that, called Thanatophobia. Death is scary. Horror movies capitalize on the uncertainty and abruptness of it, while the majority of us are resigned to quietly wait for the day to come when we will rest in peace. For some reason, lately, I can’t do that.
Before I become a gloomy-Gus here…I hope my reputation will precede me as a joyful person who has a zest for life. I try to live each day to the fullest. But….well, I cannot help but think that one of these days I’m going to simply fall to pieces.
I’m fortunate really. No one in my immediate family has ever passed away. I remember my Great Grandma Bair dying and our family attending the funeral. I was very young. I recall accompanying my friend to a classmate’s funeral, but I was so removed from anyone in the room, the whole experience was very distant and cold. I remember the last two years at Faith Lutheran when a beloved senior girl died in a car crash, and an equally beloved young man took his own life. Two funerals in two years. And still…I felt removed.
It wasn’t until last week, when I attended a funeral for the spouse of one of my colleagues that I actually began rethinking about mortality. First and foremost…my friend and colleague is a very strong Christian woman, with an amazing family, and while I didn’t know her husband well, I know that the family remains heartsick and I continue to life them up in prayer. But, I think this whole shift of focus for me is also fueled, as I watch my beloved Grandmother age. In previous posts, (“I’m no Superman”), I detailed the recent scare my family endured when doctors wanted to have my Grandmother undergo surgery. Thinking it might possibly be cancer, everyone’s emotions were heightened. Those weeks sucked. I talked with Grandma often…we laughed…and I hung up the phone and cried. I recollected memories of us watching M.A.S.H. late at night after my coming home late from rehearsal in college. I remember the lunches Grandma packed for me when I’d go to class as a freshman in college, and the days I’d throw the majority of the contents away, because I was too cool for that. I hate myself for that now.
These scares as of late, these unexpected moments…have shaken my very firm foundation. I’ll be honest, for the first time in YEARS, I have a lot of questions…and fears.
You’ve heard it before. Those colorful people with snappy smiles quipping “I don’t want a funeral when I die! I want people to throw a party!” Blah, blah blah. What are you going to do, orchestrate it? Are you going to sit down next week and script out, organize and direct your own death party? No one is going to do that. And in the end, your family…thinking they know what’s best, WILL have a funeral for you. It’s a nice thought…but let’s get realistic here.
I’m not saying funerals are the way to go. I cannot grasp the REASON why we should have funerals. Closure? Perhaps…but death is pretty final, don’t you think? At least for now. Why does peering into a casket, or walking slowly down a aisle accompanied by snifflers dressed in black, toting Puffs Plus, help one to cope? How does letting it all out help one to cope? When there is unbelievable pressure behind a dam…the foreman doesn’t just say “let ‘er rip!” When a can of soda is shaken briskly…the thirsty drinker doesn’t just say, “oh, well…let’s pop it!” No, no, no. I think I would need to resolve myself to the fact that the person who is passing away is not walking through the door anymore. That person will never mutter another word.
Why on earth would I want to lay my eyes upon a casket? Forget about ever relying on me to identify someone involved in a tragedy, God forbid. I just simply couldn’t do it.
Am I scared to “go there?” I’m not sure. Do I lead a good life that I truly enjoy, and any reminder that this life on Earth will come to an end someday “darkens my days.” I suppose so. But, the funny part is…I still plug away. I manage to put my shoes on in the morning and make it through.
I pray a lot about this. I ask the Lord to please heal those who are sick, and bring comfort to those pained. I ask for more time, more patience, and swift reactions. I ask for a lot. Too much probably. But like a blind man needs his seeing eye dog to get from point A to point B…I need that prayer. I need that moment when it is just the Lord and me. I need that silence. Which is funny…because I’m a loud guy. I’m a talker with lots to say. I like loud music and crowds full of people. But the ONLY times I recall crying, are times when I’ve isolated myself or stifled my emotion in my hands.
I wish I had an answer. If any shrinks out there want to evaluate my melon…go for it. I’m sure there’s more that mere “fears” up there. But, the bottom line is, I really don’t care about the medical term, or the glossy definition of why I feel this way. More so, I just need….tomorrow.
When Jesus died on the cross, I wonder if He was thinking about tomorrow. I like to think He was. I like to think the pain, the agony, the torture, the tears….were all stifled into that trust in tomorrow. Not even Jesus could predict exactly what would happen on that tomorrow but I think He had an idea…and more importantly He had faith.
I suppose my ashes should be spread on Broadway when I’m gone, right? Ha! Maybe I’ll do something creative with them, like flock a Christmas tree! Perhaps the BEST bet is to not worry about it. I know I won’t be worrying when I’m with my Lord in heaven. You’d think that a notion like that would be give comfort about the my fears of my wife, family and friends passing away, wouldn’t you? Funny…It doesn’t, really.
I suppose I’m just selfish. Caught up in a world of expected tomorrows, and overly paranoid yesterdays. For a guy who loves life so much, I sure do an awful lot of worrying.
My Grandmother’s test came back with good news. The old bird is up and puttering around her own home now, wearing the CROCS I got her. I expect her roller-skating and roofing the house in the next days. She’s something. My colleague friend is back to work and I gave her a hug in the office today. She looks good. I’m glad to see that she can go about her everyday again. Some say she’s at peace with things.
I’m okay, really. This post is going to come across as depressing, or self-loathing…but I swear I’m okay. Just thinking a lot. Just a bit selfish…a bit paranoid…a bit silly….and a bit fearful. But the fear of sharks never kept me out of the water, and I only have one life…I’m not going to waste it standing on the shore. I encourage you all to do the same. While the days may sometimes be long, and the paths we walk sometimes crooked…we’re never in control, we don’t know the outcome of this mystery novel, and the Lord will provide.
From MacBeth – Act. V, Sc. V – “Tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterday have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out! Out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow.”
Shakespeare’s so freaking cool!