-Bobbi Lu –
-Susie Q. –
Remember when we were kids? Death was far away and not in the circle of our reality. As we grew, we came to understand that death, and endings, and the unknown were a thing. Sometimes, we even come to fear it.
It got me wondering lately, probably due to a lot of death that came knocking on my door. I was thinking about how different I felt now about being older and about what might come after we leave this world. I realized that in my previous years, I hadn’t spent much time thinking about it. It was as though there were layers of insulation around me. And now, the layers are thinner and I can see out more . . . out into . . . well, I don’t know exactly. I sure wonder about it a lot when I never used to before. And now, now I even get tinglings of . . . fear . . . doubt . . . dread . . . I don’t know.
Back to these layers. It’s like we get a natural layer wrapped around us just because we are young. Now, mind you, I’m not applying judgements either way on the layers – so don’t you either! Then, your parents, if they are doing any kind of parenting of quality, apply another layer – the on that matches their style and beliefs to be sure, but a layer nonetheless. Grandparents, who hopefully live by the “what happens at grandma/pa’s, stays at . . . ” add their layer. And some fortunate souls also get a great-grandparent layer.
The years pass, and we begin to experience loss. Maybe it’s chronological (as it should go) and we lose greats, or grandparents. Maybe even some of us lost pets and/or others along the way. All this to say that the insulation that is wrapped around us on the outside begins to thin. As we age, the insulation of youth thins from the inside – and we start to glimpse hazy views of the beyond – or whatever is out there.
It is lately though, that instead of peering at the haze – I started looking at the insulation and noticing the thinning. I did some mental calculating and deduced that I’m almost burned through my grandparent layers and that only leaves my parents . . . ! Then me! Well hell! I’m not sure I want to actually thin out anymore. You see, my brilliant brain realized that if I do get through all my insulation, then it is just me and the great beyond. And I don’t really know what is . . . beyond, and frankly, my dear, I don’t want to just yet – or anytime soon.
Its scary when you notice that someone you love is aging. What’s most frightening is the fact that health fails and that people become fragile. I see that in those I love and I forget every Buddhist notion of non-attachment that I have ever practiced. I see that fragility and I get desperate. I see what time does and I want to fight it. I get scared and I lose perspective.
At the moment, I am seeing some small declines in those I love and it freaks me out. I see this starting to happen and I want to help. I forget that people also have to emotionally cope with aging for themselves and sometimes having someone young trying to give them a pep talk or swoop in and rescue them actually just makes them want to scream. Is anyone else experiencing this dynamic? Turns out I can really strain my relationship with someone when I get too helpful. Note to self: stay in your own lane, it’s ok to not to help everyone at the first sign of a stumble.
What I am trying to get comfortable with is the idea that decline isn’t the end. And I know that the loss at the actual end is devastating for those still around, but it is freeing for those that we lose. I personally want my end to be a well earn release after living an adventurous and full life all the way to the end. Everyone is owed their own sort of dignity. Everyone deserves to be allowed to live life big until the end, they don’t need people fawning and smothering and taking away the final adventures. And it’s this perspective I am trying to wrap my head around as I am confronted with the frightening fact that the people around me won’t be here forever.