I had kind of a morbid conversation the other day with Big D.
I don't know why, but I seem to think about it more and more often.
I know I'm getting older (and yes, yes, I know at 32 years old, I'm still considered "young" by some, but you must admit as you age, our own mortality just kind of jumps up and smacks you in the face, doesn't it?) and that is one part of it. But I think there may be more to it than that.
I was laying in bed one night, having trouble falling asleep, staring at the ceiling and feeling my thoughts whir crazily around in my brain.
I was thinking about dying.
I've had this thought before, it's nothing new, but this time was different.
I was thinking about dying, and I don't mean at a young age. I was visualizing my death at a nice, ripe old age--and it scared the ever-loving shit out of me. WHY? I started thinking "Oh my God, I'll be gone. Gone forever. But where will I go? Will I see my father? Will my family be heart-broken? And will I never feel/see/smell again?"
The more questions I asked myself, the more anxious I felt. Heart racing, sweat inducing, panic. Normally thinking about death doesn't have quite this reaction. Yes, it seems so large and scary and unknown but I've always been comforted by the fact that (for me and what I believe in) when people I love die, they are still "here" in a sense. But I couldn't hold onto that comforting thought like always, and instead imagined myself just ceasing to exist, like erasing a letter permanently off a page of paper. Would I be erased?
I told Daryl the next day or so about my crazy, new fears of death that night, and he nodded casually and said, "Oh I haven't stopped thinking about dying since the day you got the positive on your pregnancy test!"
"Really? You think my new-found fear is related to the fact that we're going to have a child? Is that how it is for you now?"
Big D explained that for him, it was. He said how it's such an exciting time in our lives, bringing a child into the world, and yet at the same time all he can think of is "Someday I'll die and leave this child, and he will have to deal with that painful loss. And that bothers me."
And immediately I'm taken back to the day my father and I had the best and worst conversation of our lives. The day that he told me how proud he was of me. The day he told me that his regret was that he would not get to hold his grandchild in his arms. And see me (and my brother) live out our lives. And enjoy his retirement with my mother. And finish living his life. And I was sitting there telling him how much I would miss him. How much of a wonderful father he was and had always been. That I would never let him "die" in my eyes and memory and most importantly, my heart. And wishing I had done "more" and been a better daughter (this I kept to myself).
As I remember back to that day and his words, and as I even write this post, I think I'm coming to a revelation of sorts. I am starting to think that I don't need to fear death, as much. As Daryl pointed out, yes it will be so sad to leave our children some day and leave that stain of grief upon their hearts, but at the same time, I hope and pray that it's after a very, long and fulfilling life with them. But if it's not, if it's only after 51 years on this earth, and only (I say only, but yet I know some of you never even had this much time with your parent/spouse/child/loved one, and for that I'm sorry!) after 25 years with my child, I will still remember that I've had a good life. And hopefully I will have given my child the best years ever.
This is my hope.
And now I have a question or two for all of you (if you've made it this far through my rambling): Are you afraid to die? And if, GOD FORBID, you died tomorrow--would you feel like you have lived (and loved) your life to the fullest?