Saturday, September 24, 2016

Death and it forerunners

Today's topic is not too cheerful but we must all face the subject in our life.
When I was a child I once regaled a friend's mother with an ad hoc list of all the ways one could die: from a safe falling on one's head from an upper story window, to an infection from a dog bite, to car accidents,  etc,etc,etc.  She got so angry with me but I just would not stop listing every conceivable way to die I could think of.   She was baking and my friend and I were watching her while I chattered on.  Finally she had enough and banished us from the kitchen.  She later asked my sister what was wrong with me.
I remember running like a banshee through the basement of the funeral home with my cousins at my Father's mother's funeral.  We had the best time ever until we were apprehended by an an angry uncle. Whenever I got angry with someone as a child I would wish they would die.  This seemed to be the only way to permanently remove the troublesome people in my life.  It seemed so easy and final...Wam!  your dead...no more problem.  Otherwise, difficult people remained a continuing problem in one's life.
I guess I have always had thoughts of death on my mind, because again as a child, I used to pray my Mom not die until I was at least thirty years old.  I thought by then I would have it together enough to deal with her loss.  Alas, it was not to be the case as she died when I was only twenty one. I found it impossible to deal with and despite the fact I was married, I cried and had nightmares of my mother leaving me for at least six months.  My husband told me later he did not know if he would ever get back the girl he married.  I was depressed, always crying, gained weight and I quit a good job to get a horrible little job in Uniforms For Industry.  I was tallying load sheets and keeping inventory of how many uniforms went out and how many came back.  I worked with an extremely crippled man named Charlie, who taught me to use a calculator without looking; and a older woman named Charlotte who had severe scaring from acne, and used to come to work with a parrot on her shoulder.  It was a dark period along factory row in Jamaica, N.Y., but it gave me time to heal my soul among people who had far greater problems than I had ever dealt with.  I learned to love my co-workers and value the time I spent with them.  I visited their homes, met Charlies mother, and was surprised by Charlotte's cosy little world among her birds and antique treasures.  Her windows, in an extremely poor area, were willed with light and wind chimes.  Both of my friends were safe in the environments they created for themselves.
But back to death.  It all my preoccupations with death in my youth I never was afraid for my own life.  I felt invincible.  I could go anywhere and get involved in any situation and never fear the outcome.  Someday I will write about some of the scary situations I got myself into and out of, but until later I never was afraid for myself.  Each situation was a challenge that I thought I could get myself out of.   I always believed in God and had felt with him by my side there was nothing to fear.
I realise now the reason death never scared me.  I know that when one dies, for better or for worse, change is inevitable.  We either go from a living state to no state at all, a profound change; or we experience a change to another whole existence.  Heaven, reincarnation, time travel to the place we originated from, who knows?  There are those who claim to know but they can offer no proof.  So we trust our reason, our God, or we fear death because it is unknown.  I have always welcomed change, both in the physical world and circumstances or in the mental with new thoughts and ideas.
I do not still fear death, but I do fear very much living in pain and physical and mental deterioration.
Some of my worst fears are of being enclosed.  I have claustrophobia and in later years developed a great fear of heights.  I have a deep fear of being unable to breath.  My COPD has most likely increased this fear, but one of my worst fears from long ago was of drowning.  I truly fear torture and all the books I have read about prisons, concentration camps and bondage situations have fed these fears.  I have a vivid imagination and empathy with others so I experience a lot of what I fear.  I also fear pain, pure and simple.  I know when we feel pain we know we are alive but still I do not at all enjoy the sensation.  Worse, perhaps, is not being able to move or feel anything.  Being trapped in one's own body must be one of the worst sensations.  Once I was prescribed a sleeping pill.  As I drifted off to sleep I felt I was unable to move my limbs or turn around.  I was terrified.  I swore I would never take a sleeping pill again.  I once read a book called "Johnny Got His Gun", about a soldier who was trapped in his body and unable to communicate in any way.  He was completely conscious and remembered everything and the book was a stream of consciousness story.  I have never forgotten this book although I was eighteen when I read it.
So all in all I conclude it is not death that I fear but rather the process of losing life.  Losing the mind/body connection, with which I have lived my life.
So now I must begin to master the process of dying so it will not be so fearful.