I read Chris' entry about aging over at Wat da Wat, and it reminded me that I've been wanting to write about this for a while, now, but I've been distracted and lazy. Oh, well, better late than never.
When my mum was in her fifties, she had her will done by a very nice attorney who is not only clever, he has a sense of humor. I know!! When the will was prepared, she had a reading. The (not at all) deceased sat at one end of the table, the lawyer at the other, and Big Brother, myself, and a trustee occupied the middle seats. Mr. M (the lawyer) read the will and made sure we understood everything - then told mum that was possibly the oddest experience he's ever had as a lawyer. The decedent isn't usually sitting there smiling and laughing with the heirs and trustees when the will is read. Heh...he didn't know us very well at the time, although I think he understands our weirdness a little better, now. Mum had a reason for doing this - when her own father died, no one knew what the will said...who would inherit what, if anything. It's not the first thing on your mind when someone you love pops off, but it did make for some confusion later on. Mum wanted to avoid that, so she went about making sure that we know what's what when she shuffles off this mortal coil.
Death, at least to me (and to some extent, mum) is no mystery. It is not unexpected. All that lives, dies. Whether the living have a long strand or a short one, they are all cut by the fates eventually. It is, in my opinion, the height of folly to avoid thinking about mortality (to pretend it will never happen, I mean), be it our own or of those we love. I don't say "If mum ever dies...", I say "When mum dies..." We have talked openly, mum and I, about aging - about her aging, and eventual death, and what she wants if she'd sick, demented, dying, dead. We laugh a lot. I'm trying to talk her into letting me make her into a reef ball when she goes, or maybe fire her into space, or make her into a diamond, or perhaps all three. She may end up a truly tacky piece of garden art, some sort of gnome statue or a pink flamingo. I don't know, and she's still considering what she wants after being lightly toasted to an ashen grey. If she doesn't make up her mind before she snuffs it, I'll decide...and if she hates it, well...too bad. She can haunt me.
I have known a lot of death in the last decade. I've lost more than a few friends to AIDS, and been with them while they faded from the bloom of health to skeletal, unable to move, reduced to mumbling, babbling speech. I sang one friend from this life to the next, possibly one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. I've lost family to age or to cancer and wept even while I remembered their Hell-raising days. I have thought of my own demise, even contemplated accomplishing it on my own when it seemed like Death was taking his sweet time. He and I have chatted, and we're good; I'll keep plugging along without trying to do his job for him and he'll leave my garden alone - except the chives, because even Death can't seem to kill an established chive bed, but it gives Him something to do on off days.
Some quick thoughts on death and dying (please don't confuse quick with poorly thought out or frivolous):
1. Death is not dignified, but if we're lucky we won't have to care about that when we are in the midst of it.
2. Death is not the difficult thing. Life is. Even Death knows that, and if you dance with Him enough, He'll tell you all about it before sending you back out into world to finish your chores.
3. If a living being is loved while living, they never really die - they are contained in every thought, every memory, every association with them, their habits, their living that was experienced by the ones left behind.
4. Light travels in particles and waves. When we see things, we are taking in these particles and waves. We are making the things we see a part of us. I see the stars, I make them part of me. I see a tree, it is part of me. I see you, you are part of me. This is basic stuff. If you see a living being, it/they become part of you, passed on to all who see you and take you in only to pass you on to the ones who experience tham. We are, in this way, beautifully eternal.
5. We honor the dead by living. When I die, I want a party...with cake, punch, and all the music I loved in life. I want people dancing, laughing, making a mess that (for once) I won't have to clean up. I don't want to be mourned, I want to be celebrated, and I hope I have a life worth remembering.
Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!
"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One
For old quotes, look here.
For old quotes, look here.