This I Believe

Philip - balch springs, Texas
Entered on September 9, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

Death is a subject most people would rather not talk about. It is a tough subject for most living conscious beings to grasp except on a very basic level. Television is full of death and dying both real and fiction. Video games depict some of the most viscous and perverted scenes of death and destruction. Yet when it boils right down to it death is foreign to us all. It is something that happens somewhere else to someone else.

Millions of people have died since the beginning of our species. Thousands are dying as I write these words. Millions more will die in the future and still each of us have trouble seeing ourselves as dead.

We bury the dead. We burn the dead. We immortalize the dead through cryogenic freezing. We spend exorbitant amounts of money preserving and burying the dead. With all this we still think death is something that happens to someone else somewhere else.

Being a former paramedic and working around the funeral and cremation business for thirty years or more. I can tell you death is the business for the living and not the deceased. The Bible says the dead know no more. They are asleep. When I worked at the funeral home I used to go into the embalming room, or prep room as it is sometimes called, and just stare at the dead bodies as if they were going to wake up any minute and talk to me. If you look at a dead person’s chest long enough you can see them breath. Of course, it is an illusion.

The brain cannot believe death. The living cannot relate to this odd state of being. Everyone should take death very seriously because it is always just around the corner to take you away. Death has no respect of persons. Is doesn’t negotiate terms or time. Death is the final destination. A one way trip to the unknown.

Human beings love to be in command and control. They love to call the shots. Competition is the name of game until death shows up at the door and tells you, “Time is up. The game is over. Let’s go.” Since the dawn of time people have found ways to overcome their fear of death or at least lighten its sting.

I have had two heart attacks, been bitten by a copperhead and two rattlesnakes, been run over by my own car, and I’m still here to write these words. I have met death face to face and eye to eye. And I can tell you it was a life changing experience. It made me think about how I treat people. It made me think about love, my family, and my friends. It opened my eyes to a whole new world. Facing death made me see just how important every second of everyday is.

We have a chance to save ourselves from ourselves. We have a chance to turn our lives around. We have a chance to forgive and forget. Because death is coming. You cannot and will not escape it. We must learn to lift each other up. We must learn to respect each other. We must learn that war is not the means to an end, but the beginning of the end.