We all know in our heads that we are going to die one day. For most of our lives we imagine that to be so far in the future that we really don’t need to be conscious of it at all. And if it was not so, life would be miserable, and we should probably make a pretty poor showing at it.
Later, as our bodies become noticeably less reliable, we may find that the end of our life has begun to come into focus, and we may start thinking about what it will be like. But if we are well most of the time, the force of life within us will still bear us along, and the chances are we will still be thinking: “It’s not my time just yet - I’ve still got a way to go”.
And then one day, if you are like me, in a moment of mind-blowing clarity, you may realise that your own imminent mortality has become a reality, and is part of your daily perception of who you are and what you are about. You may suddenly feel that the dark angel is sitting on your shoulder, rather than lurking on the horizon.
The loss of my husband left me acutely aware of being now the oldest in the family. Of course, I don’t have to be the next to go, but hey! just look at the odds. My heart attack four months ago revealed that two of the four grafts I had done 15 years ago have become blocked again, and I have to face the implications of that too. So now I know in my gut that my time is drawing to a close.
As a result a real sense of urgency has overtaken me: so much to finish, so many people to see, so much to put right if I can. And then there are the unanswered questions, the unspent passion, and the unfinished lives that I shall never see come to fruition. I don’t want to leave all this behind. I can’t bear the remorseless cycle of life and death, which demands that after so much effort, so much caring, so much creativity, it must all become the past, me included.
Will it be enough if among my descendants, someone decides to trace their forbears, and discovers my existence on a genealogy website? Will it be enough if my blog is still out there in cyberspace, available to be read by all? Will it be enough if my sons still think of me with sadness, but also with impatience at my remembered weaknesses and follies? My blog helps me to screen out the fear of being nothing any more, and to maintain an appetite for life, which I hope is one of the best ways to prolong it, because ....
I DON’T WANT TO GO!
The drawings I have used to illustrate this piece were done by Valerie Beeby, digital artist and web designer, as part of a feature on her own website about drawing the faces of fear. I am much indebted to her for permission to use them in this way, as they add a touch of humour to an otherwise rather bleak message. You can see more of her work here: http://www.purple-owl.com/art-faces-fear.html