A lot of my writing is about older people. Now I am becoming one of them. Throughout my life at various times, I have worried about dying. When I was a child, fear of death kept me awake at nights.
We all want to live a long life, but after my mom and step-dad died in the same year, I had thought more about quality-of-life versus length of life. Both of them died in their sleep, which is the best way to go, but they had both reached a point where they were no longer enjoying being alive.
After seeing my wife’s mother struggle and finally succumb to lung cancer, it’s obvious I’d prefer to die in my sleep rather than suffer through a painful illness.
We always feel sad when someone dies young, robbed of a full life. But it’s equally sad to see someone in a vegetative state in a nursing home who is still alive but without any mental capabilities left.
My wife and I used to joke about getting hit by a bolt of lightning together when we were eighty. Now eighty doesn’t seem that far away anymore.
People my age think about the financial aspects of how long we will live. Do we have enough money if we live to eighty, ninety or one hundred? What if special care is required?
This is the crap-shoot of the aging process. We don’t know how long we’ll last, what condition we’ll be in and what quality-of-life we can maintain.
So death remains the inevitable outcome with the uncertainty of how and when.
The old adage of living each day as if it were the last still applies. “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.” Life is a precious gift and I need to stop, “smell the roses” and appreciate what I’ve got. With death as “the great equalizer,” life still remains our own special opportunity to live, love, give and be present.