I do.

 Yesterday, completely unrelated from one another, I found out that two people I know (knew) had passed away.  One was the eldest member of my extended family and the other was an acquaintance through my weekly volleyball group.  One was young and one was young at heart.  Both leave behind people who loved them and cared for them and will miss them terribly.

I think that I have lived a blessed life so far in that death has not become such a routine occurrence that I’m used to it, numb to it, know how to react, know what to say… 

This blessing leaves me feeling awkward, out of place, out of sorts, fumbling for the “right” words, the “right” action or supportive display whenever death does brush up against me (can I really say that?  is that selfish of me?).

I guess I should be thankful that I still find myself at a loss for words when someone I know passes away (and I am, I truly am).  But (still so completely selfish of me) I often wonder when I will grow up enough to understand death?  When will I be able to accept it as it seems almost everyone else in my family can (or is that just a facade and they really feel the same as me?) and find beautiful and articulate words to share with family and friends to ease their anguish?

Is that something that happens eventually?  Is that something that comes with experience?  (And I can’t believe I’m writing this up.)  Will I eventually believe the following mantras to such a degree that the knowledge will help me understand?

Everything happens for a reason.

They’ve gone to a better place.

They’ve lived a long, full, life.

It was their time.

We have to have death to give meaning to life.

I hear these.  I’ve even repeated them on occasion as I’ve found myself in converstaions and situations where they were applicable/warranted/called for.  I’ve tried to believe them, and when I used them, I was trying to convince whoever I was talking to that I did believe and therefore it would be okay for them to believe as well.  But, I don’t think I really do…

Or, maybe that’s just more of the hypocrisy that is me.  Some days I believe and some days I don’t.  Sometimes it has to do with convenience and sometimes it has nothing to do with anything.  It’s just who I am and it all feeds back into not knowing how to feel, what to say, what to do…  Where is the guidebook, the instruction manual, on death?

Not that I would read it anyway.  When I get down to the root of my concerns, my cautiousness, my unwillingness to examine these things and come up with the same words of love and grief and condolence as those around me, I know it mostly stems from my (selfish) desire to evade death.  I want nothing to do with it. 

Life has so much to offer.  So many things to see.  So many experiences to enjoy (and not enjoy – I take the good with the bad, life is life).  So much to offer that I don’t believe that someone can ever have a “full life.”  There is always more, more, more.  More hypocrisy.  Everything does happen for a reason and they have gone to a better place but there is no such thing as it being “their time” and there is no such thing as having seen enough, done enough, lived life to its fullest.

Have you heard that before?  Someone saying they’ve lived life to the fullest, they’ve had a full and complete life?  It’s time for them to move on to leave room for someone else to have experiences?  Who wants to live forever anyway?

Well, …

18 thoughts on “I do.

  1. I have heard this so many times before and wonder when people became so complacent with the human life that they can casually say that it was someone’s time or they are in a better place. I mean, how do they know? I know I am not ready and I can’t say that anyone I know would I say that about either. I still have so much to do in my life and I don’t know that I would ever be ready. The only people I could even possibly imagine saying they are ok with it are the elderly that are in their late 80’s or older. I have heard many times before from many elderly people that they have watched their friends and family pass away one by one and they become so lonely and long for them. Could that be when they became ok with the end of their lives? Very sorry for your losses. There are no words that can truly express the sorrow for a person you care for.

  2. This struck a chord with me as I just recently lost my Mom (lost – isnt that an interesting way to put it…) and I am still struggling day to day just to get out of bed. I, too, am fortunate that death has not touched my life so often that I have become anesthetized to its cold and cruel fingers. I truly think that a great deal of the people who seem to be able to accept death are simply only showing the tip of their emotional iceberg – that under the surface the same doubts and admonishments and fears are bubbling along like mine are at the surface – they have just mastered the act of covering them. There is no fullest and we have plenty of room…

  3. First of all, thank you for following my blog: http://www.babyboomersandmore.com! I appreciated your comments on death – well written! Maybe for many of us – and I’m at the head of that line – the fear of death is dressed up more in the fear of “how will I die?” “will it hurt?” “will I know it’s coming?” I know it’s inevitable so I don’t dwell on the fact of death. But the manner in which it happens? That’s another story entirely. Perhaps being on the cusp of turning 60 may have something to do with my current stance.

    • When I set my mind to pondering death, I find that the “how” doesn’t bother me as much as the “who” and the “what:” who I’m going to leave behind? and what experiences am I going to miss out on? Thanks for commenting.

  4. These are good, honest questions you ask. I’m probably a good deal older than you, but I’ve also been fortunate enough to live a life largely untouched by death–so far. In fact, I’m not as concerned about my own death, which I sometimes even look forward to, being stuck in a miserable marriage (if you ask why I don’t just get out, I can only say that the force of habit is strong, and I know my wife will be devastated if and when I do), as I am about those of friends and loved ones. I don’t think anyone is an “expert” on death, since it represents the great unknown, and isn’t something any of us has any absolute control over–at least not yet (of course, a lot of scientists are working to change that). Death is supposed to make us feel and look awkward, as it represents either God’s or nature’s having the last word in our ultimate fate. Even though I don’t believe in heaven or an afterlife, I might change my tune after some of my more cherished folks step out of the picture frame. Who knows? Thanks, by the way, for following my blog and liking certain posts.

  5. Death is inevitable. We might live longer or shorter or think we’ve “dodged death” but the Bible clearly tells us that death of our wordly body is inevitable and history has shown this to be true. However, death of the spirit doesn’t exsist. And only our personal journey and beliefs determine the happiness we feel when we make the transition from the wordly to spiritual realm. I know I’m going to have eternal life. I will never feel any pain or suffering and I will have all I need and tons more. Satan will always be an active part of our lives because he wants us not to believe, to second guess what we know and what knowledge we have been given access to. And each time we doubt we open our hearts up to him to invade us a little bit at a time. The great thing about Our Lord Jesus is that He never gives up on us, He never doesn’t forgive us when we ask it of Him and truly try to repent, and that is something worth living and dying for.

  6. Throughout the past few months, I’ve been reflecting, remembering, missing family members that have passed. Many died over thirty years ago. I never thought grief could feel so fresh. Thanks for your wonderful post and I must agree: “Life has so much to offer. So many things to see. So many experiences to enjoy (and not enjoy – I take the good with the bad, life is life). So much to offer that I don’t believe that someone can ever have a “full life.” There is always more, more, more.”

  7. Firstly, thank you for liking my post Notes on a Novel. I have many other posts on my main blog, Cineaste, you may enjoy.

    You’ve touched upon a subject that many people tend to gloss over and “accept” by hiding behind faith or denial. To actually deal with death, to stare it head on, means that we are acknowledging, yes, one day I will also die. Which is terrifying. There is never enough time, we are never prepared, and there will always be more we wish we could have done. Your “selfish” desire is far from. We all feel the same way. No one wants to deal with death.

  8. You forgot the worst comment of all: God needed another angel in heaven.
    I hate that one.
    I want to live forever.

  9. I recently lost two people- one a mentor, the othe ris alive but lost in a world of her own. This has inspired me to write a post in their memory.

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