Monday, September 25, 2006

On Life, Mortality, and Dying

It has always been amazing how often a confluence of events can come together to focus my thoughts in a particular direction. This post is about just that sort of circumstance.

For the last 3 years or so, I have battled illness and it has not been easy. So in July, I will be 60, and I can no longer pretend that I am not growing old. I have lung problems, recently had a knee replacement, and recovered from a series of ailments beginning with viral meningitis due to a compromised immune system. Only now can I exercise and start to rebuild. A couple of nights ago, I awoke unable to breath, and tumbled out of bed believing that something terrible was wrong, and perhaps it was, but the act of jumping out of bed restarted the old motor and it was ok once again.

This weekend my partner/spouse and I had very long talks about life and what it meant to have lived it fully. Our mortality clearly was on both our minds. Then this morning I learn of a friend who's partner passed away, and I know that feeling, or at least I know my own feeling having lost my own love/soul mate back in '97.

And so here I am. I think I live as fully as I can considering the health issues. There is my writing and my gardening and the animals are a source of neverending joy. There is the sleep disorder, but that just permits more quality time in the evening for the things that I love.

What happens after death is of no great concern, for I am quite comfortable knowing that I will never know until that time comes. And part of my belief system is one that speaks of a continuity in life where like the rest of nature, has a beginning, middle, and end, and what is left behind is the love offered while here. All in all, as a life goes, I am particularly happy, especially considering the fact that life was particularly brutal when younger.

But there is the realization that this life I love so much is growing shorter. It is reasonable to assume considering the health issues that another 10 to 20 years may be it if I am lucky, and though the time of passing is as uncertain as ever, it is clear that it is at the point where it will be sooner rather than later.

I think what I fear is the dying itself. And the loss of something I hold so very dear. Now certainly these fears and concerns are not anything new in this world. But they are my feelings now. And I know I am powerless over what is to come. Still I wonder out loud if the fear is meant to endure for the rest of the journey, or if somehow I will come to grips with that as well? I thought I had, having nearly died when I was younger. I thought wrong. I wrote this awhile back. Perhaps it is as close as I can get to any resolution:


At moment of birth’s breath we scream
Vision focuses on death’s door.
Life contained in finite dreams
Dark day comes, here no more.

Growing, reaching for what can never be
Life’s vision expands becoming forever
And we are brash and bold, gods of all we see
And time slips away for immortality that is never.

And we seek immortality through thoughts and deeds
Isolating from our connectedness, specializing in denial
And build and conquer and quietly our lives breed
The fear with which to destroy as is our style.

Amidst humanity’s bombasts and bomb blasts
Wars of conquest, power, and control
Wars of nations, wars of neighbors always they last
Running from fear residing in soul.

Searching for solution, solution in which to trust
Clinging to hope of different ending
Despite frantic search we shall return to dust
And we become angry at fate’s sad sending.

And then, older still; bargain and negotiate
And gradually reconcile and enjoy
Life’s gift knowing end soon is life’s fate
Focus now on our piece of a greater story.

Contentment becomes ours with each and every day
And live each moment, it might be the last.
Understanding the price soon enough will be paid
Loving life more for each breath passed.

And then that day comes, quietly we scream.
We have seen the vision of coming death’s door
Life lived, with unfulfilled dreams
Dark day is here, and we are no more.

And yet a blessing indeed for love and soul
Love living on, in mystery so sublime
And our memory becomes part of the whole
Even as finite body recycles into the Divine.

And if we see Earth as living and being
And if we accept we are all part of whole
In all of creation we are seeing
Nothing lost, and love rooted at heart of soul.

Jessica Wicks
Copyright June 8, 2004


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