I was about 5 maybe a little older. I was lying in bed and had just woken up. I was completely stiff. I couldn't move. I was afraid for some reason, little statue in pink pj’s. It wasn’t too too late because I could hear someone watching TV down at the other end of the house. I managed to calm down a little, get out of bed and seek out the parent enjoying their peaceful time.
My mother was sitting on the couch watching a program. I didn't even look. I was running at that point and crying. Mom snatched me up and started rocking me asking me what was wrong. I remember feeling her warm chest and the comfort of her arms wrapped around my little body. "I don't want to die' I said to her. She quietly rocked me back and forth shhing quietly. "It's going to be alright," she would say. I would eventually fall asleep and find myself back in bed in the morning.
This happened often to me when I was little. I've never really asked anyone if they had similar experiences. Even in adulthood, I find myself panicking at times when I think of death, more of the fact that someday I won’t be here anymore. There have been times in my life when i've tried avoid those thoughts, talking about it. There have been times in my life where I've been ready to confront it, so depressed that I stood with a knife in my kitchen ready to face it for real. I've always had a reason to snap out of it. I've lived a pretty good life so far and I think that's why I am afraid. I love my family and friends. There are so many things to do before we leave this life and I feel I need to do them.
I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Kenya for a while. During my stay I attended the funeral of a coworkers father. The rituals and tributes lasted all day. People were screaming, wailing, rolling on the ground. Others were singing and celebrating; there was even a parade through town honoring this human being. Speeches were being given; food was served to the community. This person's life had ended, but it was being celebrated with style. Having been to very subdued funerals in the past, I had never experienced this before and I felt so honored to be a part of it. Death was everywhere in this community, but people weren't letting it stop them. They were showing their appreciation for life and fully expressing their despair around death and the loss of a loved one. I was refreshing to see the realness of the situation and the lack of fear around expressing grief.
Recently, my father passed away. I have never felt that despair and sadness before. I was able to really related to those children screaming in agony for the loss of there loved one. I loved my father and there were so many things left unsaid and undone. Since he passed, death has been on the forefront of my mind. At times I don't know how I should behave. I'm the little girl wanting to be in her mother's arms listening to reassuring words, I'm the lost adult trying to find meaning and make peace around the fact that I will not be here one day, and I'm the wailing son by his father's body uncontrollably expressing his pain and sadness.
I was fortunate to be with my father when he was dying and I was fortunate to sit with his body while his spirit left this place. I sat and spoke with him. Told him how I wanted my life to be. What my wedding would be like, what his grandchildren would look like. I held his had and cried softly. I told him I loved him, and I could hear him say it back. It was precious and the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.
I don’t know if I will ever be ok with the idea that I will die one day. I am sitting here after visiting my father at his final resting place. So many things rush through my head at once. There are so many questions and many of them will go unanswered. I guess I just have to enjoy being alive, love my father, love those that are still with me, know that death pretty much sucks and there is nothing I can do to stop it. I think that’s a good starting point.
Love you Dad.