This I Believe

Madeline - Oakland, California
Entered on December 9, 2006
Age Group: 65+
Themes: death, fear

This I Believe

Now that I am well into my eighth decade, people are dying left and right. The deaths of those older or around my age are painful and sad, but nevertheless, expected sooner or later. Recently a dear friend of mine suffered a fatal heart attack—he was five months younger than my daughter. Somehow his death affected me more deeply than that of my father, my mother and my former husband, all of whom were well into their eighties, or my infant son who was not breathing when he was born some fifty years ago. All this has set me to pondering just how I am able to accept such losses and not go nuts or drop out. I have spent a good portion of my life, since approximately the age of eight when it sunk in that there was no escape from the grim reaper, fearing my own death to such an extent that the thought made me nauseous, not to mention afraid to live my life to the fullest. I have been afraid to fly, swim in water in which I cannot stand—the list is endless. Lying in bed last night the same picture kept coming into my mind—small, golden coffins, one for each of those close to me who have gone. I don’t know how this image came about but I figured out that these coffins are a unique and personal place to keep those with whom I shared mutual love in this new phase of their existences. I cannot talk to them but I can know they are there and just maybe my thoughts will come into contact with theirs somewhere out in the vast ether. While pondering this I realized that my morbid fear of my own death is beginning to dissipate. I believe that I am coming to terms with the fact that the very inevitability of death consigns it to a natural place, a place not to be feared. And just maybe I will also be in one of those beautiful, tiny, golden coffins, right alongside those who appear to have left me.