Monday, March 11, 2019

Memento Mori


I had a bit of an epiphany when I was walking in the woods the other day. I'm 66 as I write this, my husband is 76. I know that what we are looking at ahead is the inevitability of decline and death.

Sounds terrible doesn't it? 

It's not really. We run away from this our whole lives. But then I remember seeing my grandmother when she was in her 80s, happy and eager to see what was up for lunch. How could Gma do that? (That's her in the pic with me gnawing on her hand in 1953)

OK, intellectually I know this is inevitable. One favourite quote that lights it up is this one: "Things rise and fall. We gain. We lose. Someday, all of us, if we're not hit by a bus, will get a diagnosis. At that time, the question will be what is valuable about life, what do we love."  -- John Tarrant

But the adjustment is not smooth when our usual lives start unravelling. We have to accept the 100 small fails that when younger wouldn't have slowed us down for a second. They add up. And the big ticket ones - well, we have to accept them too.

I can't know what is going to happen, but I can know for sure that it will include death, and likely include discomfort, vulnerability and disease, whether it has my permission or not. 

So, I started to think about what 'inevitable' really means. The word itself. This was my thought process:

Inevitable.
That means it is going to happen for sure.
That means it is already written in the stars.
However the future unfolds, it's already written. A done deal.
Not in terms of fate or destiny, but just the simple fact of it.
That means it has already happened.

Now I am starting to get an idea of why people who are old, ill, disabled, and vulnerable are grateful for each day. It's not because they are running away from death, but because they are taking care to notice the 100 little joys in a day.

As I adjust to all this, as I give up any idea that I will survive this, and give up any idea it won't be painful at times, I'd be wise to do the same - stop often through the day and take joy in my life. 

I wish I Gma was here so I could ask her how she coped. She was alway a cheerful soul, even though she had a tough life.

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