I remember every one I loss to death because I love each of them as an influential part of this life I still live. As far as I know from my limited experiences very few want to die unless they see death as a physical release from the pain they are experiencing in life. So death happens like life happens. In many cases it is spontaneous, not planned. In the case of a heart attack it might be sudden. No time to think about life before it is over. In illnesses such as cancer, it might be long term. With the CoVid-19 virus it could be either. I recently loss three friends because of the virus. One had time to write and tell me of her situation, a final goodbye. I learned of the other two from family members. I was on the contact list to be notified.
In all cases it was sudden. Too quickly a loss to death. I think of the words of Oliver Sacks:
To be full of strength and vigor one moment and virtually helpless the next, in the pink and pride of health one moment and a cripple the next, with all one’s powers and faculties one moment and without them the next – such a change, such suddenness, is difficult to comprehend, and the mind casts about for explanations.
Maybe there is an explanation. Maybe not. For the greater part of my life I have wondered about, conjectured about, written about, and have had close encounters with death. It is something that happens, that will happen to every life form no matter what form it takes. I am again reminded of words from a poet who lived 101 years on this small blue orb, Stanley Kunitz.
The way I look at it, I’m passing through a phase: gradually I’m changing into a word. Whatever you choose to claim of me is always yours; nothing is truly mine except my name. I only borrowed this dust.
What if “death is merely one of life’s greatest transitions?” What if all life dies in order to return to its source in the same manner salmon return to their stream of birth to lay the eggs for the next generation of salmon before they themselves die? Maybe life and death are equal partners. The drive to life is equal to the drive to death. A balance must be maintained. What if I, you, everyone who dies is just as Marilyn Nelson says:
A handful of dust trying to get back to supernova. Like every longing, everything alive.
For my friends who recently transitioned, “Welcome Home! You are stardust once again. I love you.”