Learning to live with Dying
This winter so many people I know and love have been dying or falling ill. And just this morning, news of yet another one, a family member much younger than me. A friend said, “Well, we are of that age when this will happen more frequently.” Honestly, not much comfort in that statement, but someone has to be the realist I suppose. In a recent doctor visit I was reminded that I myself am nearing my expiration date, as well. It may be ten or twenty years away, or maybe much less than that. I am scheduled for a few tests tomorrow and beyond. Pending insurance approval, of course. I am feeling pretty bemused by this experience. I suddenly lost hearing in one ear just a couple days after seeing my doctor for a routine exam. I was sent to the emergency room where they drew an enormous amount of blood. For me, a drop is a lot, so bear with me. While in that process there was more discussion about what my insurance would and wouldn’t pay for when I asked them to check my thyroid hormone level while they were at it. Turns out they could check it, with a doctor’s order, of course, but what I marvel at is here I am in the ER and feeling pretty shaken and vulnerable and they are making a point to let me know about the financial end of things. Very therapeutic. Thanks so much. All I want to know is if I can still do shoulder stands later on today.
So back to the dying part. When my ear went deaf suddenly and the world narrowed down into strange sound bytes like the refrigerator motor running and the crack and pop of the fire burning in the wood stove I asked myself ” If you are dying do you want to do that in the ER, or on the way there in this very real snow storm, or would you prefer your bed?” I went to bed. My dog came in to snuggle, but actually got on top of me, where upon I had to push her off me to breathe, and she left the room in a funk. She hasn’t slept with me since that night so I really think I hurt her feelings pretty badly. She was trying to keep me in my body maybe and I wrestled free. I have a habit of doing that, you know. Breaking free of restrictions, leaving boring and boxed in jobs or relationships, living situations that no longer suit. I tend to stick with something at least for a year, to claim that I committed to it. The one constant in my life besides my sobriety has been my massage practice. It’s my life’s work actually and something to which I have devoted 24 +years of constant study. I read volumes of related material and have a great deal to share in that vein. Or so I think, most days.
But back to the dying thing. Sometime ago I learned of a shamanic practice that helps prepare a person for their own death. I engage in this practice sporadically. I really want to transcend this life in an “exalted” way. In other words, I want to be of service to my descendants rather than feed off of them due to having to hang around as a shade. And this world is very cluttered with shades. Of the human kind. Too many have died without a proper psychopomp, but I won’t be going into detail about that here as it deserves a more thorough description. You will have to wait for the next installment. Insert smiley face here.
Today I will live with the fact that I will die. Today I will prepare for that death with all the grace I can muster. Today I will enjoy the sun on my face and the blanket of snow all around that will water all those seeds in the ground. Today death has no sting.