Many of us die by incidental disease. My goal is to have a final fight with a Bear in the woods, and lose? Yes, of course. Bloodied and all. Yet, graciously as well. I’m good like that. Any coach knowing me. Knows I’m that way. I had one coach say to others and I, as he has had to look at me. As he was trying to get a joint or a bone back into place in my body, “She’s the perfect soldier.” Alas, the only other way for me to die is of ‘old age’. Which has been considered not politically correct to say. I consider that unfortunate for others. To me, either way to die is quite admirable. However, most wouldn’t accept it. The Gift I have is that I will.
I don’t truly completely contemplate heaven and hell. I have nearly no clue as to what’s really out there. Yet, I have personally been at death’s door enough to know what it feels like. There’s a brief adrenalin rush. Well at least for me there’s been, on each occasion of my own possible demise. However, about ninety-three percent of us do not accept that we’re going to die.
Yeah, we talk about it. But we don’t really get it. I had a psychologist friend who took me out to lunch about twenty years ago. She told me the difference of how my mind operates. About life she said, “You get it.” Then she wagged her head, when I tilted mine with wonder, “Don’t most people get it before age forty?” I queried. She shook her head an emphatic, ‘No’. I was stunned. Jaw dropped, I was.
So that moment, I have contemplated for nearly two decades and now in my sixth decade of living, when I didn’t think I’d ever make it this far. I’m still alive. There are a million reasons to stay alive. Every day I find tons of reasons to stick around this place in this vessel we call, ‘human being’. Yet, I have the Gift. As I contemplate just as much every day why people act like they are going to live forever. That has baffled my mind, till very recently.
About two weeks ago I stood in the living room of one of my clients. She stated, “We have become God-less.” I thought that. Yet, I refrained from that thought entirely. In my private talks with my husband I say, “Honey, it’s always been this way. That’s why there are Bibles and religious books.” All those books remind us where we’ve gone wrong. What human nature may be that we are up against in the vessels we exist in on this place currently. In this spectrum of the universe. As well, along with all its energies.
So, this brings me to quality of life. It is what I strive for. It is what I have preached. ‘Why do I even try to eat right, or exercise?’ We may ask ourselves, when we realize we are at the end of this temporary road we call being human? My answer is the quality of what we take in, process and what we put out to the world. I do what I do, not to live longer. Quite to the contrary. I do what I do, because I know and have known since probably age six my Gift. The Gift is that we all die at varying ages.
The Gift arrived when my mother brought me to a church on a Saturday afternoon in May over fifty years ago. We entered, bowed our heads, and made the sign of the cross. No one was present. As we walked up the aisle towards the front of the church. The light of that sunny day shone through the stained-glass windows. Colors lining part of our way up towards the altar of the church. Those colors perhaps cast a ray of hope for those in despair. Who make their way up that aisle, on those less colorful days of remembrance. Perhaps to lift their burden of sorrows.
On that particular day in May. Mom, initially not saying a word. Yet, being serious in thought, directed me to turn right at the last of the front pews and aim to the candle lit section of the front of the church. I had always wondered what those candles lit and unlit were there for. Yet, I’d always been afraid to go near the front of the church. The front of the church was for better people. It was different from school.
My Mom, then spoke and said, “I’m lighting a candle for your brother who died. He was my first.” She prayed, then lit a candle. And soon we were parting. Leaving the candle lit behind us. When we arrived home, she showed me his baby shoes that he’d never made it into. I found out then, I’d had three brothers. Two were already dead. Birthed on the same day a year apart. Incidentally, that day is my wedding anniversary.
I’ve contemplated hard on those matters, so far for the rest of my life. And when you do and you’re me. Maybe you get the Gift. The Gift is knowing everyone dies, and accepting it. Yet, in the meanwhile doing everything you can to create a quality of living to do all the things that the dead could not do. I DO NOT do what I do in my eating, thinking, exercising to defy death. I do what I do, because I know better. I know to be responsible with the vessel I’ve been given, meandering my way through all it’s defects. As well, to enjoy the vessel, and it’s science of its temporary life.---Jody-Lynn Reicher