Due to a combination of recent and past events, death has been weighing on my mind a lot lately. Well, weighing is a heavier word than necessary, drifting around through the back of my mind as some thoughts tend to do is a far more accurate description.
Many people don’t like to think about death. What a morbid topic many say. Their own death, that’s a thought that very rarely ever truly forms past a small blip on the radars of our brains. Because of this vast dislike of the thought of death, the majority of us have developed a very successful denial program within our minds. The human mind is quite the amazing thing.
We think to ourselves as we light a cigarette, smoking might kill me someday. But that day is not likely to be today. Besides, I could get hit by a bus this very minute. We drive down the road knowing that a car accident might kill us. Yet we climb in our cars, buckle our seat belts, and go about our business. Sure, it might kill us, but that day is not likely to be today.
When we think about death, we all know that a vast number of things might kill us. That this, or that, or the other, might just be the thing that leads to our death. But only someday. Not today. Not any time soon. Not to me.
Some long off day in the future. A day far enough away that we excuse ourselves from thinking about it. From facing it. From accepting, that death is about the only thing in this life of ours that really has no “maybe” or “might” attached to it.
We will die. I, will die. That is simply a fact of life. A certainty. Sealed into fate the very moment of conception.
I think, that we try not to think about death because we are afraid. I think, that we are afraid of death because of the huge amount of uncertainty surrounding it. As humans we tend to fear the unknown. We see death through a veil of uncertainty. We don’t know the day, the hour, the circumstances. But, we know, for an undeniable fact, that despite all the unknowns, that the end result is death…. If we are brave enough to let our minds think about it long enough to get there.
The way my mind works, and I like to assume many other’s minds, is that preparation takes away much of the uncertainty that naturally leads to the fear. By being prepared, you can live a more peaceful existence with less worry dragging you down.
There’s an old saying. It goes something like, “this is the first day of the rest of your life.” You’ll find it said often in high school and college graduation ceremonies. And, for a small time in each of our lives it was a perfectly applicable saying. In fact, I used to really like this saying…. That was until I came across a simple sentence in some random book I read some time ago. The sentence went something along the lines of stating that the first sentiment was completely wrong. That we should not be living our lives as though this is the first day of the rest of our lives, despite how inspiring this may appear to be. That the real truth is, we should live every day as though it was our last. That there, that is a significantly more real, more applicable, more truthful statement to live by.
So… I’ve been thinking about death. My death. And though you may think this is a morbid thought process to go through, that I must be tangled in the tight grip of some dark and sinister depression to have such thoughts, it is in fact quite the opposite.
Some day, I will die.. so, what can I do about it? Well, for starters I can stop being absolutely stupid about how I live and stop pretending i’m immortal by doing insane things such as smoking and cramming junk food into my face like it has no effect on my health.. But, even living a healthier lifestyle in hopes of not prematurely seducing death onto my front door, I can also prepare for an event that I know will ultimately happen.
For example, a will… Oh Rah, but those are for “old” people… Nah, those are for people people. I love y’all, but death doesn’t give a shit what age you are, what Friday night plans you have, or really anything other than when it’s your time to go, you’re going.
So I’ve been thinking some about this will. Do I have one? No. Am I in a rush to get one done? Somewhat. You see, a will is in most ways simply a way to designate your “things”. By things I mean your house, your car, your bank accounts, and all that fun stuff, but I also mean your body.. as by definition, it is merely a thing. (Sorry folks, but you’re not taking it with you). Me, I’m not too worried what happens with my “things”. I’m married, all my things legally go to my husband in the event there is no will. When I draft my will, my “things” will legally go to my husband. So, there’s really no pressing reason to hurry up and legalize what would legally already happen anyway.
BUT, I do need to make a will. Why? Because, if something were to happen to me, regardless of where life has taken me or my relationship with my husband, my “things” are his to use in any way he needs to ensure my children and grandchildren are taken care of. When God gifted me children, he assigned me a job to get these human beings into the world of successful adulting. Every single “thing” in my life is gifted to me in order to accomplish this task. My death does not change this task needing to be carried out. Therefor, just as in life, in the event of my death, any resources of my life, naturally, go towards accomplishing this task. That’s kind of a given.. I would think.
But say something happens to myself and my husband at the same time. Say something happens to me after all my children are successfully adulting. Well, then I would want my “things” divided among them fairly. Preferably by whom needs what most. And yeah, I plan to have this figured out and planned out and in a will before anything does happen to me. We all know what they say about making plans though. So, if something happened before I did get a will figured out, the last thing I would want anyone to concern themselves with is worrying about who I wanted to have what and where. It’s just not that important.
Sure, I’d like to take care of all the details such as my organs being donated (not really like i’ll be using them, might as well let them help someone else) or where I’d be buried, the cremation, the burial, the headstone, etc. I’d like to take care of all of these details so that no one is losing relationships fighting over stupid shit like cars and houses and bank accounts and all that. Most importantly, I just want a will because I’d like to erase the uncertainty in my loved ones of feeling burdened by these decisions.
If there is no will, I want those closest to me to work together to decide what is best. It doesn’t really matter that much what the ultimate decisions end up being. If I don’t have it all planned out, whatever you decide is best, it is perfectly fine with me. Whatever decisions are made, just make them out of love, and you’ll be doing exactly what I would have wanted. After all, what happens to my body and funeral are for you, not for me. I’m gone. I’m not in that body any more. I’m in the whispers of the wind, the warmth of the sun, the laughter of a child, and most of all, i’m in your hearts. But, for those whom have to live on, they need a place to go, so work together to create that place for each other.
The more I let this thought process play out in the ultimate playground of the back of my mind. Now no longer shutting it down out of fear. I realized, will’s really don’t cover a whole lot of the truly important stuff. In fact, they hardly cover any of it at all.
I began to realize that much more pressingly important than drafting a will was to draft a non-will. What is a non-will you may ask? Well, it’s a totally made up word I created to describe my true wishes upon the event of my death that aren’t covered in the typical will concept. They pretty much go as follows:
CATCH MY TRIBE
My tribe? These are my people. My family. My friends. My acquaintances. You. Anyone and everyone that is affected by my death. I want you to catch them. To not let them fall. To be there when they’re hurting. Hungry. Lonely. Tired. In trouble. Whatever, whenever. Be there for them. Love them. Support them.
Don’t let pettiness cloud your heart. It doesn’t matter who knew me longer. Who’s hurt is “more righteous”. The pain of the heart is not measurable. I’ve experienced the affects of death in my lifetime. I’ve seen, felt, and heard the natural responses. “She didn’t even hardly know him.” “Oh, now they loved so and so soooo much, where the fuck was that love when they were alive?” Don’t be that person. Don’t let my death darken your heart like that.
You must love those that I loved. That is the secret to my heart. That is how you show me love. That is what is important to me. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the choices someone has made in their life or anything else you may have an issue with about a particular person. If they are hurting in any way because of my death, give them the love I am no longer able to give. Because if they are hurting, then they loved me, they cared about me, no matter how small it may have been, it means that I loved them back. That I saw that they were real and I loved them for their realness. It means that they are my tribe.
And please, please, take extra care to catch my kids, my grand kids, my husband, mom, and sisters.
Above all else, is love… Show that love in whatever form it requires.
Catch my tribe!
FORGIVE! FORGIVE! FORGIVE!
If the event of my death is caused by another, forgive them.
This will, hands down, be the hardest thing I have asked of you. But you must find a way to do it.
I don’t care if it was an accident, the person was distracted, the person made a bad choice. It is tragically unfortunate that it resulted in my death. Forgive them any way.
Sometimes people make bad choices, but that doesn’t mean they are bad people. Whatever the circumstance, people are merely human and humans fuck up sometimes. That’s just the way of life… and in this case, death.
My death, like every other event of my life, is merely a single piece of a 1,000 piece puzzle. You can look at that one piece all you want. Observe it. Critique it. Analyze and agonize over it. No matter what you do with that single piece of the puzzle, you will never see the full picture without the other 999 pieces.
I know it hurts. I know it’s hard. But there is a reason for everything and everything for a reason. You may not understand, and that’s okay, it is not our job to understand. God knows what he’s doing. He’s got the whole puzzle already put together.
So, forgive them. It is pure suffering to live with the knowledge that you were the direct cause of taking another human life. I’ve had an abortion. I battled that demon. Do not let this demon destroy someone. Help to buffer their pain if you can. This person, fate has now made a part of my tribe. Catch them. Let them know they are forgiven. That they will take this pain and let it grow them into a better person.
You will be angry. I know. It won’t be easy. This I know as well. The agony and bitterness you feel towards this person is only because of your depth of love for me. And trust me when I say, I absolutely love you for this. But, take that love that you feel for me and shine it outwards onto them, because I can no longer do so.
And never, ever publicly shame this person. You may think that you are standing up for me. That you are protecting me. Honoring me. I understand that and I love you for your honest intentions, but don’t do it. It is NEVER okay with me to intentionally tear someone down. To publicly blame them. To participate in being a part of letting my death destroy their life. If you think, for even a moment, that you are doing that for me, you are highly mistaken. I’ve seen it. The accidents where the distracted driver whom took an innocent life is ripped to pieces online. Do NOT be that person. Accidents happen. They are not to blame. Love them. And forgive them.
Do not let my death be the cause of even the smallest bit of bitter darkness entering your hearts. That’s not what I want for you.
The last thing on my non-will of things, the things that burden your hearts with wondering if you’re truly doing what I would have wanted, the things that aren’t on wills but are just as much a part of death as death is a part of life.. the last of my wishes, is that you embrace life.
Death is but a part of life. Your life will be filled with ups and downs. They are all temporary. Enjoy each one for what it is and do not linger in one more than the moment that it is there.
Sure, we all enjoy warm summer days more than bitter winter ones. We all prefer the happy times over the sad. We all wish we could have the rainbow without the rain. But that’s just not how it works. If all the days were sunny, they would be no different than anything else. They would become mundane. Would you be dancing in eternal happiness because each and every day is gloriously warm and beautiful? Though in heaven I probably am now, on earth it doesn’t work like that. You would become so accustomed to the beautiful days that you wouldn’t even see it’s beauty anymore. So God gave us the rain. He blessed us with rain so that we could feel the glory of the rainbow. He gave us sad times so that we would be able to truly feel the beauty in the happy ones.
To truly know, to feel, to experience anything, it’s opposite needs to also exist. Without hate, there would be no love. Without dark, there would be no light. Without death, there would be no life. Though it’s hard, and you hurt so much right now, without my death there would have been no life. I lived. I loved. And I want you to do the same. Don’t waste your life away in pain and sadness. Know that I want to see you smile, to laugh, to love, to play, and create, and experience, and explore. I want you to live.
I know it might take you a little time. Grieving is a mysterious thing with absolutely no timeline. It will come in waves. But know, that though I know you miss me, that I want you to be happy, to enjoy life, however that looks like for each one of you.
Hopefully, it will be many, many long away years an eternity from now until this post has any purpose. But where better to put it than online, where nothing ever dies?