Until recently, I have been living life with the thought of death in the very back of my head. I never really gave it much thought, when I did I would become very anxious. Most of us think it will happen to us when we are old and that we don’t have to worry about it now. Lately the realization that we do not last forever has been very apparent, almost inescapable.
I lost my best friend of ten years 6 years ago. He was 33, the age Jesus was when died. That was the hardest thing I have experienced in my life. He had been struggling with his alcoholism for a long time. We always talked about trying to be together romantically, but I told him he needed to do some work on himself and remain sober. His alcoholism would have been detrimental to him, to us. Drinking for him was very dangerous, he would have seizures from the withdrawal. He became someone else when he drank. I have seen alcoholism, I grew up with it, but never to this extent. After many attempts to stay sober, he was finally really doing it. He was really working on his life and mending the broken pieces. He lived in Arizona at the time and we spoke nearly every day. We talked about how great he was doing and were planning on him coming back in November so we could finally take our relationship to the next level. He died at the end of August.
I was in class last Wednesday and we were discussing death. We had to write our own obituaries, it was an interesting assignment. I spoke up about how I have been faced with the realization that my body is falling apart and have been contemplating death more lately. I’m not quite sure how to explain this whole emotional process I have been going through. Being forced to deal with all of these things that normally happen to much older people is scary. What is my body going to be like in 5 or 10 years? Is this how I am going to die, my body is just going to fall apart on me? How do I deal with the reality that my body will no longer allow me to fulfill all of my hopes and dreams? What kind of quality of life will I have now? Am I going to be in pain for the rest of it? What am I going to do, and how am I going to survive financially?
I walked out of class feeling rather deflated and I heard my R2D2 text tone go off. I looked down at my phone and received the message that my friend Mike had passed away. He was also 33, way too young. Many people I know suffer greatly with this loss. At the funeral I saw him, the second dead body I have seen my whole life. That body wasn’t Mikey any longer, it looked like him, but I knew then he was gone. The reality really sunk in as I stood there staring at his lifeless body.
Both Mikey and Erik no longer have to suffer, that brings a little bit of comfort I suppose. They were both taken too soon, they had so much more life to live, so much more to give the world. I still haven’t been able to fill the hole that Erik left and now there is a new one. This hole is felt not just by me, but by the entire community we shared.
Lately I am scared to go on Facebook because of all the recent loss in our community and I realize the older I get, the more loss I am going to face. I never thought I would face so much of it in my youth and early adulthood. I envisioned all my loved ones growing old with me, than reality hit. We are fragile, any one of us could go at any moment. We get to choose how we live our lives. Granted we may not be able to choose what happens to our bodies or when we leave this earth, but we can choose how we spend the rest of our days. Life is precious. I have learned through all this that I need to cherish those close to me, and most importantly I need to cherish myself. Give someone a hug today and tell them you love them.