Thursday, April 02, 2009

I had kind of a morbid conversation the other day with Big D.

About death.

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?


Kori said...

Geez April. Really did you have to make me cry on this rainy already overwhelming Thursday morning.

Great post by the way.

And my answer to your question would just be too overwhelming for me to wirte it down right now. I'm sure you understand.

April said...

Oh, Kori, I do! I'm sorry you chose TODAY to read my depressing blog post!!! :-( Thinking of you always, girlie.

April in CT said...

I think I'm more scared of growing old and not knowing who will take care of me than dying in itself. What I'm terrified most of is when my father dies. Don't get me wrong, I love my mother more than words can express, but I'm a daddy's girl from day one. Now that we live so far from him I think of it more and more and it's miserable. My goal is now that he is retired to make double sure we see each other as much as possible. I have to block it out of my mind or I'd be a mess 24/7 at the thought of losing him, my mother, sister or husband. I'd be lost without them and that's not a comforting thought.

Very touching post April, thank you for sharing such a personal emotion with us.

Sarah R said...

I really don't like to think about dying--it's so depressing. It does cross my mind from time-to-time, and DH says it crosses his mind too.

I cannot even fathom thinking about the unmentionable--which I won't mention. It would be FAR worse.

tricki_nicki said...

Oh yeah, 100% YES to that question. I think about it all the time. I go through all the scenarios, down to the touching video I leave to my children, and how I never wanted to leave them motherless. :)

And then when your babies come, your biggest fear is that THEY will die. The crazy never ends...this mothering instinct turns us into wackadoos.

PixieDust said...

Yes I am a bit scared of it, mostly because there is so much that I still want to do with my life. I still want to have kids, go overseas, own my own house etc. So yeah, I'm terrified..

Keri said...

I always imagined my feelings when my parents passed away... i always said i would need to be sedated for when my Dad passed...
and yet now...

But i started to think more about my own mortality when i brought my princess into the world. I deeply fear leaving her... and now i DOUBLY fear leaving them both.

bookflutterby said...

Interesting post. I have had a lot of people I love die, even though I'm still considered pretty young. I'm not afraid to die though, I know for sure where I'm going. I think I would be a lot more worried if I had children...but I don't.

Aimée said...

This is actually something I have faced. I was told that I had UP to six months to live, that I was dying. For me, it's hard to explain, but I just wanted to be with my kids and husband as much as I could before I went. So much so, that when I found out that I was a cadidate for a new liver, I didn't want to be at the hospital, but stay at home (admitedly, I was sometimes delusional at this point, with a lot of ammonia in my brain)

My point is, for me, I kind of trusted in the fact that it was "my time", wasn't scared, and tried to live for my kids as much as I could in the time I did have. Having been so close to death, through a coma, etc, I think about death probably too much. I've gotten my affairs in order and you wouldn't believe the peace of mind that gave me.

TMI? Sorry! This IS something I think about a lot!

Krystyn said...

Yes, this is totally related to becoming a mother! And, hormones.

And, even though I have my faith, I still will be honest enough to say that yes, I'm afraid of dying...not so much for me, but fear of what will happen with my hubby and my kids.

Anonymous said...

Oh, that is why I stopped thinking about death. It freaks me out - I won't be here, that's too weird.

remember moments said...

April - I've had all of these feelings/thoughts too. Sometimes I am afraid to die, more so now that I have E. I sure hope I don't die before he is 18 yrs old. It's hard to grasp that we are only here once and that's it. The only thing that keeps me sane I suppose is believing that we go on to eternal life and that I'll see my family members who have already passed on.

Tendrils said...

April - I too have had all those thoughts, and I have to say that as you become a mother, you not only fear your own death or your spouse's death, but the death of your own child..... There is a crazy freaky feeling you get every once in awhile during mommyhood... my hubby says it's irrational; but I think it's all part of being a mom.

Heather said...

i would not be afraid of dying simply b/c my mother is in heaven and well it would mean i would be with her again. especially since i never got to say goodbye since she died so unexpectedly. however i would hate to leave my kiddos! i do feel like i am living my life to the fullest at the present simply b/c i get to be with the kids during the day yet still work and know that i am contributing important medical insurance for my family (yes i would love it more if i did not have to work at all but that is ok) what a great post and thank you so much for sharing and letting us share!

RCRambling said...

Okay, I just noticed my friend Tendrils follows you, too! Yay!

And she has a good point. I think it is part of the parenthood thing.

Prior to becoming a mom, I would occasionally think about death and how sad my family might be should I died. I probably thought about it a little more when I entered the fire service, but I can't say it has ever hit me when I'm on a fire call.

Until now.

Yes, I think about, and fear, dying. Not from the aspect of where will I go (I have to hold onto my faith for that), but on what it will do to my child. Will he remember me? Who will guide him and do all those things I do for him? Who will support the Hubby in caring for him? How will I make certain my values stay with him? Who will comfort him when he needs me and I'm not there?

All of these thoughts race through me at random times, and I've tried to focus on just putting my faith and trust in God that my work here, with my son, is not complete.

Does it always work? No. Do I doubt my faith at times? I'm human, so yes.

The Hubby and I have discussed this a lot, and the same things worry him. In his mind, he wants to be around at least long enough so our son knows him well and knows how much he is loved. Also, like me, he worries about what he would miss if he should die.

Also, as Tendrils mentioned, you will worry about your child's life and how you would handle it if he were to die. I know you have already had a pregnancy scare, so I know you've faced that fear (that will come back time and again as your child grows), but yes, that thought may hit you frequently as well.

Welcome to parenthood - and this fear part is the difficult part. In good news, the love and happy moments will bring you more comfort than you can imagine. And even if I have to face loss someday in the future (or if my husband and son had to face my loss), I know none of us would trade the loving moments we are having now.

Every day is a gift.

Kat said...

I've never been afraid of death. I have always had my faith to lean on and tell me that there is a better place after life on earth.

And then I really started to FEAR death. I started panicing about ceasing to exist (just like you described). I would break into a cold sweat just thinking about it. And I would think about it all the time. I believe it all happened right after I had my first child too. I don't think it was so much about my kids missing me, but me not being able to see them and know they are okay. THAT freaked me out. The ceasing to exist, to see the people I love, and be with them ever again. Such a horrible thought.
But deep down, I know that our souls go on. I know there is a heaven. I really feel that. I know that my freak out moments were just that. Freaks outs. Nothing more.

K. Michel said...

Well, Ms. Tumultuous, think of it this way. If you AREN'T afraid of death in the least, then you aren't one bit human in the least. Worrying about death is natural, but it isn't going to change the fact that one day... we're all going to bite the big one. Worrying accomplishes nothing. The most you can do is live your life with as much passion, vigor and love as possible.

And who's to say our lives stop at death?

Julie said...

I've thought about this too, differently after becoming a Mom. It makes me sad to think of how Emily would feel if I were to leave. She would be so sad. She has already experienced 2 deaths in our family in her 4yrs.

I think more about my health than actually dying. Like I need to get in better shape for her.

ALF said...

I always imagine that I will be really old when I die and it will be OK because I will have lived so long. I don't think I'd be as OK with dying tomorrow - there's lots of stuff I still want to do! But then I figure that everything happens for a reason and if it's my time then I guess it's my time. Or at least that's what I tell myself.

nancy said...

Damn it April. You just made me cry reading the convo with your dad.

As for your question - dying is scary to me. Well, the knowledge of dying, as I believe I'll just cease to exist. Like going to sleep with surgery - I'll no longer feel/hurt/smell/taste/know. I'll just be gone. So the thinking part of the act of dying is scary as hell for me. But maybe I'll just get hit by a bus and won't have to deal with the goodbyes. I always sucked at those.

ugh. but thinking about leaving my kids. my heart can't bear that thought.

Jaina said...

Depends on when I think about it and how I'm feeling. Sometimes it terrifies me to the point of panic, other times it's a peaceful thought. I try to live and love fully though. ::hugs:: to BigD for that comment...what a wonderful Daddy! And ::hugs:: to you too April, I'm SO excited for you :)

lolit said...

i am alot older than you so don't worry, it may come ahead of me than yours,hey!just want u to smile today,you had a great post.For the meantime let us make this life worthwhile.

Poltzie said...

I don't think I've ever thought about this. I mean I have and that is why M and I have really good life insurance and Chicken also has his own just in case anything happens. But I've never been very scared of it. I just have this feeling that M and I will be alive until we are super old. But pregnancy is so hormonal and it brings up lots of intense feelings!
Big hugs!!

Tabitha said...

My dad died when I was 25 and he was only 45 years old ~ it certainly made me look at life in a whole new way. I remember talking to my dad when he first found out that his cancer was terminal and he said to me that you should make the most of life and live every day as if its your last! I have taken this advice to heart and I make the most of every last minute of every day ~ none of us know what tomorrow holds ~ so we all have to 'seize the day' today.
Love and hugs Tabitha XXX

Anonymous said...

Wow April Wow. What a doozy!

Well I'm afraid of dying in a sense for all the same reasons you were talking about earlier in the post. Afraid to leave my child and miss out.

However, because of my faith and my intense belief in Heaven and eternal salvation thru Christ, I don't fear death. I know that it will bring a happiness that I have never known. And it will be here that I get to be reunited with loved ones gone from yesterday.

NOT to give the impression that I want that to happen anytime soon. I can hold off as long as possible!