Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dying to live.

Recently I have found myself in the midst of provocative conversation and contemplation about death.  Mine in particular.  What do I fear most between now and then?  What do I hope for?  What are my fears about the actual moment? What do I hope it feels like? What do I fear most after my death?  What do I hope happens after I’m gone?

These are our homework questions for a series on death, dying, and documents.  I was filled with trepidation when I learned this was to be the topic for a few weeks in my long-time meditation practice. I didn’t want to think about it, talk about it, or make plans.  I intend to be around for a long time yet and so was very resistant to sitting with the discomfort around all this. Why now?  Really?  Do I have to?

The truth is, I didn’t want to stir up any unfelt or unexpressed grief for my Dad or Duncan.  We are approaching our 6th annual celebration of Duncan’s life and launching a music scholarship in his name on May 25th.  It is always a wonderful night but leading up to it can be more emotionally charged than usual.  And Dad has only been gone for a few months and that’s still a wee bit tender. I really thought that the timing for this topic to be on my plate could have been a lot better.

Nothing could be further from the truth. When I began to answer the questions about how I wanted to die, I saw clearly how my answers describe how I want to live.

What do I most fear? That I will be a burden. That I won’t have the physical sturdiness to withstand what the rest of my life holds. That I will have left things unsaid. That my bucket list will be long and my f**kit list even longer.

At the moment of my death, I am afraid of pain. I am afraid of leaving a lasting, not-so-pretty picture of what my death looked like to whoever is by my side.  Or that I am alone.

And afterwards? That I am forgotten. That I didn’t make a difference. That I won’t have finished what I came here to do (or that I never figured out what I came here to do…).

So what are my hopes?  Some of them will be written – sooner rather than later, so that when the time comes, I will have had a hand in how I depart, and those who may be with me won’t have to guess what would comfort me most.

Mostly though, I have a rekindled desire to live as Henry Miller so beautifully said…

“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.”

What began as a fearful exploration of death, has become a joyous beckoning to live.

Branded by living,

Authentically yours,


P.S. In our meditation we were invited to hold these words in mind… they are believed to be what a dying person most would want to hear…

Please forgive me.
I forgive you.
I love you.
Thank you.
I will remember you.

I can imagine saying these things now to those I hold dear.

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