If you think I have words of wisdom on this, then I’m belly laughing right along with you. For those of you debating skipping this post because of the downer title, don’t worry, keep reading you’ll get to the warm fuzzy call to action with a twist of hope soon enough. I promise.
Death has always been a taboo subject for me. I fear it. Like deathly afraid of it (pun intended). But as I’ve been sick, and as I face down this biopsy to check for uterine cancer, I’ve had a few nights tossing, turning, and looking down the barrel of my own mortality.
It’s not the first time. I used to have episodes most nights, I’d be drifting peacefully to dreamland, and in that between state of awake and asleep, I’d startle to full consciousness, heart pounding and brain screaming, “You’re going to die one day.” Well, thank you brain for that lovely, not needed bit of truth. Falling back to sleep anytime soon is out of the question.
Ignoring facts is my favorite brand of denial. It’s why I lived so long undiagnosed with Lyme disease. It’s why I didn’t go to the doctor three years ago when I first noticed something was off with my woman parts. It’s why I carry around an extra ten pounds of chocolate weight.
So, let’s rectify that. Let’s stare the fact in the face for a second.
What is the truth about death?
- We all, every single one of us, will die one day. Like a nine-month pregnant woman facing the inevitability of labor, there’s no getting out of it.
- We don’t know when death will come for us. It’s the ultimate surprise. Arguably the WORST surprise ever.
- No one, not even the most religious fanatic, knows with 100% certainty what will happen to us after we die. This not knowing is, I argue, what makes the fear of death so paralyzing.
I watched this video on Facebook the other night. It’s touching, and I have some things to add to it. Go ahead and watch it. I’ll wait.
I think the heart of Holly’s message can be whittled down into one powerful call to action: Live. Enjoy the things that matter to you. Focus on living, not on appearances, not on the trivial. If you are unhappy, change it, because only you have the power to do so. Mold your life into what brings you joy and meaning.
Absolutely beautiful. It reminds me of this quote:
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. ~ Annie Dillard
Holly’s message and this quote, translated through my brain, means we owe it to ourselves to experience at least one meaningful thing a day. Not as a check-off-the-to-do-list item, but to own that deep satisfaction that comes from living it. My husband bought me a Bucket List Journal for Christmas.
At first, I kept thinking about big trips, traveling the world, RVing the US. But, as I watched Holly’s video it occurred to me that some of the bucket list items need to be everyday, fill-me-ups of joy, of contentment, of satisfaction. Because these things shape a life, fill in the in-betweens, set the tone.
I can either fight against the reality of death, worry about it, hate it, fear it or, I can accept it as an inevitable, impending event, and use all that energy on actually living.
Here’s a few daily-life Bucket List items off the top of my head:
- Walk barefoot in the grass.
- Listen, really listen, to the sound of the rain.
- Hold hands with my husband and breathe in the sunset.
- Let my heart swell at the beauty of my children’s laughing.
I think I’ll make this a new game. When my mind reminds me that one day I will die and in a hundred years, no one will remember I existed, I will say, “You’re right. I accept that. I have no control over it. So, I choose to live,” and I will start imagining new daily-life experiences I can add to my Bucket List.
Maybe this isn’t a fool-proof method to embrace my mortality, but it’s a step closer. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll embrace death like I embrace my favorite cozy sweater. Maybe, at the end I’ll celebrate a life well lived and look forward to the next big adventure. But for now, I will embrace living.
In the comments, tell me your own daily-life Bucket List items. Maybe I’ll steal some ideas from you!
P.S. I got the biopsy earlier last week. For those of you looking for a pain-free good time, I would not recommend even THINKING about having one. And, to satisfy your curiosity, the results are in, and I do not have cancer!!!!! I don’t have endometrial hyperplasia either, just two fibroids being jerks and causing problems.