This I Believe

Meghan - Centennial, Colorado
Entered on November 19, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
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My entire life has been about death. I was born two months premature, barely larger than the palm of my hand today, so from the very second I took my first breath I was fighting for the next one. Logically speaking, I shouldn’t have survived…but logically speaking, the bumblebee is anatomically unable to fly. So I lived. Then again, in third grade, I was hit by a car. It would’ve been easy for the car to hit me and keep going, crush the life out of me…but it didn’t. It stopped. So I lived again. And again and again and again…because life is a process of avoiding death everyday. Heck, I could die getting out of bed! I could die using a microwave or mopping the floor or from a paper cut or by playing golf or painting a picture or eating a banana or a hundred other ways every second of every day. Death, when you think about it, is a part of life. In Mexico they celebrate Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, to remember those who’ve passed on and celebrate death. They believe that from the moment you’re born, you’re dieing. But people don’t talk about the ways we could die or the slow process of dieing each day. What people talk about are all the chances they get to live.

Someone famous once said, “Do not fear death; fear the unlived life.” Death is like rain; no matter how many sunny days you get or what you do to avoid it, it’s going to find you. I can’t control death, I can’t stop death, I can’t reason with death…death and changes are the only inevitable parts of life. So, why fear death? I decided a long time ago that everyone has to face it at some point or another, and after it’s over, it’s over. I don’t know what it’s like or how it works or anything at all…no one knows. Fearing death is like fearing rain…it’s useless, and there’s so many other things you could spend your time doing. Like living.

My grandma, two of my close friends, and a dog I loved very much have all been hit by cancer. They, of all people, have a right to be afraid. Death for them is close and tangible; they might not get another day or even another hour. But of everyone I know, they fear death the least. Each moment to them is precious. Minutes before the dog died, he was lying out in the sun sniffing the breeze. Not a care in the world, just sitting there, enjoying where he was. People truly don’t have anything but now for certain; yesterday is over and tomorrow may never come. All we can do is live for now.

Death, when you think about it, isn’t a very complicated concept: death is the end of life. So what is life, then? The thought of the unlived life used to scare me when I was little…I wasn’t ready to die, and the thought that I could with so many loose ends of my life unfinished was terrifying. It wasn’t until I finally understood what life is that I was able to accept death. Life is simple. Life is what I have at the end of each day. Life is going to school or work or catching snowflakes on my tongue or reading a book to a little kid or learning to knit or baking brownies with buttercream frosting or telling someone I love them. The unfinished life, then, is impossible. If I don’t know the ending of my life, I can’t leave it unfinished. It ends where it ends, like a story. My story.

I believe in death. I have to; it’s reality. But I also believe in life. Life is simple, life is precious, and life is all we get. So I believe that people shouldn’t fear death…people should just go out and live.