If I outlive my parents, I will become an orphan. I wake this morning thinking about death. Not so much mine or that of my parents but death in general. I wonder if it still scares me like it did before.
Growing up I never really thought about it much even though it became my companion early on. When my grandma died I was 6 and I remember asking my mom if grandma would get a new brain in heaven. She had suffered for years with dementia and I just could not comprehend what made her do the things she did. Once she had used my favorite pajamas as toilet paper and I cried to my mom the horrible thing she had done. It was then that my mama had to explain to me about the sickness in Grandma’s brain. The day she died a pigeon fell dead on her window sill as I was standing at the window. I knew at that moment that grandma would soon follow. I wondered what it must feel like to die and if you automatically got wings.
Today as an adult I feel death coming closer. I feel its breath on my neck reminding me that I had better get moving as time is not guaranteed to any of us no matter the age. Death came knocking the day my brother died at 17 years of age. It had never dawned on me that my brother would leave so early. It was other people’s family members but not mine. I wondered what he must have felt as his soul left his physical body. I wondered if he knew he was dying or if he tried to hold onto life. These are the things my mind contemplate in the wee hours of the morning when insomnia has me in its grasp.
Once upon a time I was a hospice nurse. I have sat with people as they have made that final transition and I still have questions that will probably never be answered. I have heard their death bed confessions and have rafted with them through every human emotion as they tried to make sense of the life they had led. I always left with a sense of sadness but with one of peace. I have watched death sneak around in the night stealing breath and life and I have also seen it come in the bright of day.
Several years ago death danced near me. I had been diagnosed with a rare and usually fatal cancer that always claimed most lives. I wondered about death then. I wondered how death would tap me on the shoulder. Would it be the thief in the night or would it show itself in the light of the day. The universe said no and death had to wait for another day. I had seen it sitting near but it knew that it would have a formidable foe. I watched as it put on its coat and headed for the door with the knowledge that one day it would be back.
Death comes to us all and there is no place to hide. It will find us and hopefully when it does we will have made peace.