Monday, September 10, 2012

Thoughts on Death

Today is my mom's 7th death anniversary.  She lived to be 93.  During that time, she had 4 brothers and sisters, one of which died shortly after birth.  She married and had me and my brother.  Five years later she endured the tragic death of my dad at age 37.  He was killed in an accident on the job at US Steel in Homestead, PA.  My mom was shopping with her mom, my grandmother, when baba slipped, hit her head on a telephone pole and died shortly thereafter.  My mom's dad died a few years earlier from diabetes complications.  All of her brothers and sisters, mom was the oldest, died many years before.  All of her aunts and uncles and most of her friends were taken before mom's passing, too.

So basically my mom had only her children and grandchildren and one great-grandchild remaining when she died.  Her second grandchild was born one month after she passed.

Recounting these deaths may seem depressing, but death is simply the end of the beginning.  We all have a beginning and an end.  On a continum, birth is on the extreme left; death, on the extreme right.
Everything in between is called life.  Individually we have no control of the extremes, they happen to us.  But, life is within our control, it happens under our direction.  We make choices and then reap the benefits of those choices.  We also suffer the consequences for the bad choices we  make.

In yesterday's paper, the obit section, I was shocked to see the name of a young man I taught in kindergarten in Trafford, PA.  Cameron was only 31 and died from a horrendous fight with cancer.
He leaves behind 4 little girls, a wife, mom, dad, brother, in-laws and many, many friends. He would have gladly lived a long life, but he couldn't determine the time of his death.  That was out of his control.  But he made choices throughout his time on earth that I'm sure benefitted himself as well as everyone he held dear.  And he suffered the consequences of his bad choices, too.  I was very sad to read about his passing.  He and his family are in my prayers.

Death is natural.  It's very hard to embrace this concept when those who die are close to us, too young to leave this world, or have a devastating impact on us personally.  We seem to be able to accept death more when those who leave us have lived long lives, have reached many of their goals, or are in such great pain that death is perceived as a blessing.  Perhaps we need to spend more time contemplating the idea of death as the end of all living things.  Perhaps we need to be more open to the beauty of death as the culmination of life lived as well as could be expected. And then perhaps we won't be shocked when death comes knocking no matter the day or time.