Would it make you think any differently about your life if I told you that you are born to die? Would it make you enjoy every moment? Would it make you see things more clearly or feel things more deeply? Would you still take people for granted? Maybe. For a little while you would change. But soon you would forget and life would go on as if it will always do so.
It’s not a morbid thought or even depressing, it’s just the nature of the life cycle. There are no certainties except that at some point, whether young or old, prolonged or sudden, we will die. It has to be that way or there would be no space, no resources for new life. It’s this way in all forms of nature, we have just mastered the art of avoiding it. Medicine. But inevitably, it must happen.
It’s hard to imagine that we or someone we love will someday just not be there. And when it happens that someone we loved, liked or knew passes away, we are stunned. Numbed for a moment. Whether we knew it was coming or not. At first we cannot process it. And when we do, we not only each do it differently, but our timing is also different. Some of us run through the stages of grief openly, while others morn in private. Some of take time to grieve while others seem to pass through it quickly. It all depends I think, on who it is that has passed and how they were in our lives. But no matter how distant or close, the loss of a fellow human being touches something deep inside us. It reminds us of this truth of life that we don’t really want to remember. That we are born to die.
I work with the elderly. People who are coming to the end of their life. People who love to reflect back on all the things they’ve done, places they’ve been and people they’ve know. To comment on how different things are now. People who have lived. And although they have this doesn’t make the reality of an end any easier. They are still fighters, survivers and for the most part happy to be alive. Some aren’t. Some have had enough of their fight. But the will of our bodies to live is the strongest Drive there is. The drive of survival. Even if it is not the best thing for that person, their body will drive to survive as long as possible. As if somehow our bodies are also in denial of nature’s truth.
Over the years I have come to terms with losing people I have taken care of. It is easier to do this when you know that they have lived. What isn’t easy is coming to terms with the young dying. To have a coworker or friend or family member that is young and should still have time left, is almost impossibly hard to come to grips with. That is why I have to remind myself that we are born to die. It is the only way to truly force my brain to understand that everyday is precious, even if it doesn’t go the way I’d like. That every person deserves to be looked at right in the eye, because tomorrow I might not be able too. That expressing my love for those special to me, cannot wait another day, today is what I have. There are many sayings that remind of this. We say them, but do we appreciate it? Perhaps it is our minds way of protecting us against the pain of losing people. The fear of being lost. And we shouldn’t dwell on it. But I think we should be grateful, truly grateful for the gift of life while we have it and respectful of the fact that it cannot last forever.
I would like to dedicate this to a great woman that we lost far to fast to cancer this week.