“Would you want to live forever?”
This was the question that made its way into my mind when I was around 10 or 11-years-old upon reading the book “Tuck Everlasting.” The book was about this family who drank certain water and ended up living forever and staying at their same physical exterior as the clock continued to tick tock. Never growing old. Never aging. Forever fountain of youth. Not a wrinkle. Not a silver strand to pluck. Never dying.
That question caused ‘death’ to seep into my brain. Not in a morbid way, mind you, but in a very curious way. How could it be that we would be living, breathing, doing, and moving one day and then no longer here another day? What exactly was death? What happens when we die? Would you want to know when you will die, or when the people you love will die?
The question of “Would I want to live forever?” and the asks and thoughts I had about life and death increased significantly when my first kidney transplant was failing and I waited for my second kidney transplant. The understanding that someone’s death and decision to give a precious piece of their living and pumping kidney organ to be placed into my body was astounding to me. Full of every emotion a human could ever experience. A death. A life. A miracle in the making. A gift of life that I treasure every single day that I am still alive above ground.
My understanding of death has changed significantly from that prepubescent girl during those days of “Tuck Everlasting” and waiting for my second kidney transplant. As we grow older, we end up attending more funerals than birthdays. As we age, death holds a very different meaning and significance that makes us reflect on the mortality of ourselves and those we love. Death does not discriminate. Death can happen any time. It can be a long suffering and road. It can be sudden and shocking, shaking and rattling us. There are sudden and unexpected death where loved ones did not have to see suffering, yet also did not have the chance to say “Good-Bye” and “I Love Yous” versus exposure to a long and suffering death where loved ones do get the chance to say “Good-Bye” and “I Love You”—which is better? I have experienced both and all I can say is that the greatness of suffering is it illicit and draws out the deepest compassion and kindness that lies in the core of us.
2016 ended with the suffering and sudden death of a dear family member and 2017 has already kicked off with the shocking death of a friend. We have all experienced death of loved ones and exposed to sudden deaths and suffering deaths. We have all been told: “Life is short. Live it like it is your last day.” We have all questioned what death exactly is and, I honestly think the majority of people fear death as this is the great unknown that each of us must encounter and endure alone. For me, I know if I were to die tomorrow, I would be happy with how I have lived my life. Maybe these are the greatest meanings of death and the end—to make your own beginnings in the limited time we are here on earth, say and show people you love them, enjoy the gift of aging to gain great wisdom and insight, and embrace and live life for EVERY life is extremely precious, and that just because someone is not physically here with us does not mean they are any less not here in our hearts and spirits that we hold so dear to us. Would you be happy with how you have lived your life if you died tomorrow? What do you think is the meaning of death?
How did you find out about death? How old were you when you learned about death? Have you ever thought about what this world would have been like if you had never been born or existed and is this same as death? Would you want to live forever?
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,