My mom is dying. She is in 4th stage congestive heart failure. I'll spare you the gory details and medical mumbo jumbo about her extremely complicated case and give you the cliff notes. Basically, everything that can be done, has been done and the only option left is a heart transplant. So we wait. And wait. And wait some more.
It's not fair. She's only 51 years old and should have lots more life ahead of her. Instead, she spends her days bouncing around doctors' offices and hospital beds, just trying to survive long enough for a heart to become available.
Have I made you uncomfortable yet? Wait, I'm not done.
Our society, as a whole, hates the inconvenient truth that we all die. We love to pretend that dying and grief don't exist because it makes us uneasy. It makes us consider our own mortality. It makes us examine our own lives and question our actions. It makes us wonder what kind of legacy are we leaving behind. Did we fulfill our purpose? Did we do the right thing? Were we important enough to be remembered? What is there beyond death?
So why do we hate death so much, if it's an immutable fact of life?
Because it makes us feel helpless. I never offer help, unless I genuinely mean it. I'm a fixer by nature, (and a frequent offerer of unsolicited advice) but you can't fix death. It's permanent and that's scary. How people deal with that fear is as varied as the people themselves.
So, we come to my most hated question. How are you dealing with it?
While I don't mind answering, I never actually know how to answer that question. What kind of answer is the questioner looking for. I mean, I'm not the one sick and dying. I'm dealing with it because I have to. Do I want to? No. Does it suck? Yes. Am I scared? Of course. My mom and I are tight. She's my homie. My rock. My most trusted advisor and confidant. She "gets" me, the way nobody else can. Am I scared for my own health? Damn right, I am. But I have the advantage of a 20 year warning that I intend to heed. Am I going to break down and cry? At some point, yes. But mom ain't dead yet, and while I acknowledge all the terminal seriousness of her condition, I refuse to fall into a blackhole of grief or to live with a storm cloud hanging over my head. She still needs me. My babies still need me. Being angry and depressed would serve neither and is a terrible way to live.
So, we come to my point. Death, with all it's suckitude, is a part of life. We should treat it with respect, not avoidance, but not let it become all consuming, either. We should have an open dialogue about death since, let's face it, everyone of us is going to experience it.
*UPDATE: Mom is still here and doing well. :) Thanks for checking in.