jusummerhayes

We're all going to die

Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash
Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash

Last night, I deliberately left the curtains open.

I wasn't disappointed: the sun, light and warmth came streaming in, covering me in a delicious glow of aliveness.

The first thought that came to me was: I won't experience this many more times.

I know that's a melancholic way to start the day but it's true. 

It's not that I don't fear death, but I know my time is limited. Perhaps my brush with death was more than just a gentle reminder of my mortality and the gift that is life. But then again, that might be too literal. I could go on for another 50 years — I'd be 102 by then! — but (not that I've a crystal ball) something tells me that if I reach my allotted three-score years and ten, I'll have done well.

In my household, we're very open when it comes to talking about death. There's no word voodoo attached to the 'D' word nor cancer for that matter. I suppose it helps that my wife's a nurse and has seen many deaths but then again, that's not my general experience; namely, death only seems to get discussed right at the end or ex post facto the event. 

Is there anything wrong with that? I'm not sure. In any event, it's not the discussion part that troubles me, it's our relationship to death. 

I don't want to generalise but death isn't just the end portion of life but should inform and shape the way we live all of our life. Or to quote from Stephen Jenkinson's masterful book, Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul:

The overflowing burden of knowing something of the ending of days, that is what gives you your days and your love for them, and makes of you a treasure for the rest of us, and makes your life a story worth knowing.

This doesn't mean we ratchet up the pressure on us to live each day at a million miles an hour, maxed out on every known experience, but instead to reverently kiss the very divination of our soul in a profound and deeply loving way. 

This isn't easy — dying wise that is. In fact, my wife and I have had a few crossed words over my interpretation of what it means. She seems to think that it means a good death, not one wracked with pain, with all your loved ones around you. We all want that, right? But I see it very differently. I see death almost as a deity — something to be invited into our souls and worshipped. Not as some salvation or release but as a way to engender a deep reverence for life.

Think about it.

This day will never come again. It's unique, even though it might seem similar to the last but it's not. Look at nature if you don't believe me. She changes every day.

I know, it's hard to get your head around what I'm saying. 

But if you had to press me, I'd sum it up like this.

Do not fear death because it's part of life — all of it. It's as important to embrace her as life, even if there is great sadness, loss and grief knowing of the things that you won't be able to enjoy, see or love. In knowing that life ends, we shouldn't waste our time doing things that don't matter or don't bring us joy — all body, mind and soul.

I don't think I need say anything else.

Have a wonderful day.

Blessings and much love ❤️, Ju


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