I no longer have a fear of death. I welcome it. Death will happen to each person and I see no reason to worry over it.
I’ve experienced the death of many people close to me and the idea I will likely be the last living member of my family is a constant, friendly companion.
I realize the process of mourning is difficult but necessary for those left behind to be able to move ahead. I’ve made a few heavy mistakes in life but I think my reaction to those mistakes have been excellent and heartfelt. I’m currently in a good place with prospects for incredible decades ahead.
My own view of death is that when a human’s body stops functioning, their consciousness disappears with it. This differs from how I was raised to view the end of physical life. I was taught heaven and hell are real places and that when a person dies, dependent upon their faith and actions, his or her soul will reside in an afterlife of paradise, or separation from paradise, for time eternal.
I believe in heaven and hell. But I believe we experience heaven or hell as a human being on this earth and that we create like conditions of those mythical places for others and ourselves while alive.
I will face the end of my life waging war. I will battle against the idea my death is a reason for sadness for anyone who is part of my circle of friends and family. My hope and wish is to enable those people to celebrate the intersections of my life and death with their own life. If reconciliation still needs started and completed with anyone I care for, then I will seek to get to that and do so because what will I have to fear about that act then?
Jim Valvano, a person I never met but have always admired once said while in the midst of dying from cancer,
“If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”
Whether alive without knowledge death is at my doorstep, or after having received a doctor’s prognosis I shall soon die, I think Mr. Valvano’s words are powerful and a goal for me to shoot for no matter what the circumstances are.
I am not married anymore but I have two children who mean the entire world to me. I have two sisters and a brother living still. I know they would be at my side as often as possible if I were to receive such news my death is near, as I would be in their case.
Having made arrangements already for what I would like to have happen to my body once I die, I would then attempt, in a continual loop of glass half full moments, to pour out my heart to my family, and laugh, think and cry with them.
I have a particular alternative wish for my burial to be enacted. I want to be cremated and my ashes placed in a Bios Urn. In that Urn, specifically designed to grow a tree from, I want a Beech tree seed placed within. I want the Urn to be taken to an already approved forest and buried there so that my ashes will foster the growth of a Beech tree, reportedly the type of trees books were first made from. Beech trees are said to represent creativity, and as I live my life as a creative person, I will dream of my physical essence nourishing new, filled with hope, life, growing, reaching towards the sun and sky.
The bark of Beech trees is also where people easily carve their initials and words. Please do so upon the tree my elements become part of.
Trees have been the best of my friends since I was very young and practically spending entire days in and around the two apple trees in the back yard of my family’s home. Wherever I’ve gone trees, voicing no complaints, allow me to linger nearby, or climb them to rest in their arms. If I feel the need to sing, dream, cry, or laugh, however it is I do those human things have always been completely accepted.
While it’s still possible, as my body dies, I want to be outside under the sky with roof over my head, with my family nearby. I can even accept those conditions if I have no one along to provide company.
I will want many, many hugs and kisses from my two children as the materials I am made of move on to become part of another form. Tears fall down my face as I write these words. I will ask them to come visit my Beech tree whenever they can to tell me how their own lives are progressing. I will ask them to carve a new word of their own choosing upon my bark each time before they leave so that if I am wrong and there is an afterlife where consciousness exists, I can happily ponder its meaning.
I’ve lived a very, very good life. I will die a happy person with no remorse.
Arvo Part: Spiegel im Spiegel
(music to contemplate death by)