Today I celebrate the lives of my sister and my mother, in this small way.
Today (October 29) is my sister’s birthday. Four years my senior, she would have been 60 today, if she had survived. I miss her still, although when she was here, in her later years I didn’t spend a lot of time with her. Sometimes you don’t know what you have, until it is suddenly gone. She died at age 44, of liver failure – she was an alcoholic. Her death was one of the most stressful things that has ever happened to me. I was the second person on the scene at her death – her body was still warm. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.
Then, there is my mother, who passed away on October 30, 2000. I was there at her passing. A heavy smoker, she died of a combination of COPD and dementia; when she died, and for some months before that, she did not know who I was. Her passing, really, was a blessing. COPD causes shortness of breath – a victim usually has a low-level panicked feeling all the time, perhaps a ‘drowning’ feeling. My mother was suffering from this for several years before I found out there was a medical reason for it. During that period, I thought she was going nuts. In reality she was having panic attacks and paranoid attacks that frequently caused her to behave irrationally.
At this point, I am the last survivor of my birth family. My Dad passed away before my sister did.
Death represents the end of pain. Sometimes, for everybody involved.
If you’re a Christian, that is. Neither my sister nor my mother were what I would call ‘practicing’ Christians – but they were both acquainted with the Bible, and the precepts of Christianity. I do hope they were saved. If so, I expect that I will get to see them again.
A person generally is exposed to more death as he ages. It seems that probably, on average, half of everybody you know will die before you do. As my neighbor says, “Don’t worry about life. You’re not getting out of it alive!”.
A young person doesn’t really perceive that death will happen to him – it is off in some distant future. On the other hand, an older person knows that his time will come. This causes different reactions in different people.
Some people, if you were to throw them out of an airplane at 30,000 feet without a parachute, would scream all the way down. Others would enjoy the view for as long as possible.
I plan to enjoy the view.