Nobody Gets Out Alive

 In Aging, Balancing, Facing Reality, Seasons, Transition

Why do we act so surprised?

Life on this celestial ball is so short lived…less than a blink of God’s eye.

I lost a couple of family members in the last couple of months, both about my age. Of course, those who loved them are in mourning and rightfully so, but what exactly are we lamenting when someone dies?

First and foremost, we are grieving for the loss of that person in our lives. There is a sense of continuity broken. Thoughts of how future events will unfold without them flow like tears. Adjustments have to be made. Those who remain must adapt – more or less – depending upon how involved we were with that loved one.

Perhaps our second reaction to a close death is having a fuller realization of our own mortality. Even a young child can see there is an end to this life as we know it. When kids have the opportunity to have pets, they experience the fact that they will live longer than the animal. For most youngsters losing a pet is shattering. It’s the shock that things, people are impermanent.

When I do the math at my present age – which one of my 9-year old grandchildren asked me to do recently – I realized I may not be around for many more life cycle events in my children’s and their children’s lives: graduations, marriages, great grandchildren born. Even that grandson could not fathom the future without his “Bubbie.”

For we grandparents who have the privilege of living in close proximity to our grandchildren, we can only imagine how our passing will impact their day-to-day lives. I interact with most of my grandkids every week. I regularly do childcare for my son’s five, and schedule weekly Bubbie Days with my younger daughter’s four. The oldest of my grandchildren is already in the work force, while her 22-year-old brother is working and attending college so I regrettably see less of them.

When my husband Rube, their Poppa, died some nine years ago, most of our grandchildren were very young. There were only three who were of an age to remember. Now there are a total of ten – and possibly another who my son’s family is fostering hoping to adopt – and the youngest is almost five and the oldest is 26. They will miss my presence in their lives and might realize that they are also mortal.

When our predecessors are still around, they seem to be a buffer to our having to face our own inevitable demise. My parents both died almost 20 years ago. My mother’s siblings – seven brothers and two sisters – are also gone. Only her youngest sister remains, but she is the age of my sisters and I. My father’s remaining, younger sister is alive and well at 94, the last of Dad’s family. My previous generation is almost gone leaving me to face my turn.

I confess I never fully acknowledged my inevitable death until I hit my 70’s. It is then that health complications intensified. Arthritis pain had been held at bay by NSAIDs. With the advent of chronic kidney disease, anti-inflammatories were no longer an option for me. On a related medical condition, diabetes has been more difficult to manage as I can also no longer take the insulin resistance meds. Insulin is a tricky taskmaster.

I am not able to physically do the kind of work necessary to keep my home functioning well. I hire out the housecleaning and yard work, which helps me enjoy my house without having to be so hands on. It is a blessing that my kids live so close as I need the occasional light bulb changed and my ceilings are too high for me to safely do so myself.

So, all that doom and gloom to say, even though it is coming, it ain’t here yet! No matter what our age, we need to live our lives fully. I still have dreams unfulfilled and I will chase them as long as I have the breath to do so. I have whole continents I have never seen. There are so many experiences yet to be mine.

I do not plan to go – as Dylan Thomas is oft quoted – “gentle into that good night.” And I think that is what our Creator asks of us. However much time we have been given demands to be lived fully.

So, I won’t be giving away my bike any time soon…


– Shari





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