It’s Not So Much Death As …

I suppose it’s funny in some morbid way. As I age, I don’t think about death as much as I did in my youth.
I remember lying in bed as a child, dizzy and crying while trying to comprehend “forever.”
It moved so fast. And it was all black.
That was our destination in death.
I imagined my parents falling into that black eternity and being taken away from me. I didn’t think I’d ever see them again.
Somehow I had arrived through this very same current. I was nothing, born into a brief life, and then I was destined to return to the stream from which I had emerged.
It all seemed rather cruel. Why are we given a glimpse of life and love, only to have it ripped away?
At some point, I decided that I have no way of knowing what death will bring. Therefore, it seemed a waste of time to dwell on it. I don’t subscribe to Heaven or Hell. The thought of reincarnation sometimes makes sense to me, even though it can also seem rather silly.
But mostly, I just don’t think about it.
Death will come. I don’t know when. I don’t know how. But I’m at peace with that fact.
I hope.
I would say that’s my biggest fear.
It’s not so much what comes afterward. I have no control over that.
What worries me is that over which I do have control.
I’m afraid I’ll be scared to death, so to speak, of death. I want to believe that if I was looking death in the eye, I could succumb to it without fear. I want to believe that I could lay myself down in its arms and close my eyes without so much as a shiver.
The thing is, I believe that’s one of those things where you can make all the promises you want to yourself, but you won’t actually know if you have that strength until the moment is upon you.
I am reminded of the Stephen Frears film, “The Hit.” In it, a former gangster, Willie, who ratted out his friends and went into hiding for 10 years, is found by some of his old associates. He knows he is being taken away to be killed.
The men hired to take him can’t understand why he is in such a good mood. He knows how things will end.
“It’s just a moment,” Willie explains. “We’re here. Then we’re not here. We’re somewhere else … maybe. And it’s as natural as breathing. Why should we be scared?”
The thing is, Willie thinks he knows when his moment will come. The hired hands have to take him back to the boss for a final conversation. When it doesn’t work out as he imagined, and the barrel of a gun is staring him in the face, he runs. In the end, he is unable to surrender without fear.
My heart sank to watch it unfold — because I could imagine myself doing the same thing.
Most of us are inclined to hold on to our lives — and that is a great and beautiful thing — but I know when my life is at the end of its rope, I want to be able to let go without the fear of falling. I don’t want to have my hands pried away.
I hope I have that strength. I’ll worry about what comes after that when the time comes.

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