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on death and dying

every time I hear the word “death” I automatically think of that book. Every Catholic school kid in this area had to read it. I’m not Catholic but I once coached a boys softball team for a Catholic school. My then brother-in-law couldn’t play on a team if they didn’t find a coach. Me, a two year old Burg,  and a herd of sixth grade boys. Obviously I was much dumber back then. Not a horrible team but more like Bad News Bears than my Yankees. We took second. By disqualification.  During the Championship game our third baseman took the Lord’s, and the umpire’s, name in vain in a very descriptive way.  We were o-u-t of there! I offered to bench the boy, he apologized in a shuffle your feet and not really mean it kind of way. The other coach even asked that the game be continued, the Umpire chose otherwise. The poor lad didn’t get smited but we did get disqualified. I have no idea if we could have won it but it sure would’ve made a great Disney movie if we had. 

 They were all reading ‘On Death and Dying’ and if you know me you know I’ll take any excuse to read a book.  I decided to read it too. It was interesting, the first time I’d read about the five stages. 

If only it were that easy.

I don’t put a lot of thought into dying.  It’ll happen when it happens. My parents phone calls are like death watches. They don’t go by events, they first cover the deaths.  They mark their memories by “that was around the time Mertyl died” or “that was right before Ed passed”, death is their focus. Who’s dying, who’s going to die, who died.  I don’t want to be that way.  

I also don’t want to be so afraid of dying that I put all my effort into being alive longer by being miserable now. I don’t want to be so caught up in preserving myself that I don’t enojy now a little too.  I want to enjoy a medium rare steak from the grill and a beef steak tomato with real salt. I want real creamer and real sugar in my coffee and I want it strong. I want to have flavor in my food and I want to enjoy the trip. Death’s going to happen when it happens and when it does ..it does. 

I have friends who don’t eat a lot of tasty stuff because they “want to live longer by eating healthy” That’s nice and all but you have to throw in something tasty once in a while.  I have friends who don’t touch caffine or alcohol. Again, that’s swell but there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a cup of coffee or having a glass of wine every now and again. It’s about moderation. Why prolong life if you aren’t enjoying the here and now.

That said, I’m not a big believer in the afterlife anyway. Not saying it can’t exist, the only people who can tell me aren’t talking to me in dreams and I’m not having visions of Great Uncle Max telling me about the light in the tunnel. I just believe in God and my personal faith tells me that I can’t really control death. I also believe that the majority of our reward for good things done and said, is the ability to really appreciate the people and things around us. Most people who I know who are rude, cold, and selfish don’t seem to appreciate the people and things they have. I also know people who are kind, good hearted, and nice and they seem to take such joy in their lives and savor each blessing.

I don’t know if I buy into the who “heaven” concept. I’ve never been completely sure it exists. I do tend to think that the occasional thinking of others helps our own eyes open to the life we have. To me death is just God finishing my chapter. I’m not sure how, why, or when, I’ll find out soon enough.  Until then I plan to enjoy the people who care about me, the blessings I have, and the occasional medium rare steak with a side of onion rings and a mug of coffee… caffinated not that nasty decaf stuff.

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