I don’t think death is something anyone likes to talk about. Especially if it concerns those close to you or even yourself. There are few who haven’t experienced the loss of a loved one or even witnessed a death of someone they barely knew or didn’t know at all. I had two of those encounters fairly recently. It makes me feel very uncomfortable to talk about death because you realize (again) that life is so short; we are more fragile than we think we are (even those of us who are tough cookies), and everything can change in an instant.
The first tragic death I remember was in Cologne, Germany. I lived on the first floor of an apartment complex with my windows facing the interior courtyard, where one of my neighbors from below had her terrace. One afternoon, she was yelling at her children to hurry up and get dressed since apparently they were preparing to go somewhere. I know this because the courtyard echoed her pressing pleas and her children screamed and frankly, were getting on my nerves. My window was open and I was watching shows on my laptop and doing translations (homework). A loud yet dull boom was followed by a disturbing silence. I was waiting for a child to scream because obviously it had knocked something down. It didn’t. Instead, what felt like a minute later, the mother’s deafening cry must’ve echoed throughout the entire city. It gives me goosebumps to this day. One of her children (they were twins) climbed onto a marble statue on their patio and knocked it over and onto itself. The paramedics were there within minutes. Then another cry and everyone who was home knew what had happened. He couldn’t have been older than 5.
The other event was just last year. I drove to work on the 405, merging onto the 101 North in Los Angeles and took my regular Northridge exit. I didn’t stop for coffee this time. I slowed down when I saw people at a bus station standing up with their jaws dropped and clutching their belongings. I followed their gazes and saw a man lying lifelessly in the middle of the intersection. His motorcycle was several feet from him on the ground and totaled. He was not moving. The police and paramedics hadn’t arrived yet. There was someone kneeling next to him on the road – clearly they had tried everything and were now waiting for help to arrive. I decided to keep going since people quickly started pouring in. I later read in the news that he had died. It was a hit-and-run and the driver who hit him came forward a few days later. I drove past that intersection every day until I quit my job. Every day, twice a day, I looked at that telephone pole where his loved ones had hung photos, placed flowers, lit candles.
I’m not so much afraid of dying as I am of losing someone close to me or missing out and not living (FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out), which I guess is kind of like dying in a way. We all fight our own battles every day and are trying to “get through” what we have on our plate. I’ve read up on the topic and a lot of people seem to be afraid of the instant before dying. When you know you’re about to go and can do nothing about it. I imagine that to be peaceful though. But I’m in a different place… I have amazing parents and loyal friends; I have always gone for what I wanted, worked for my goals and enjoyed most of what I did (not everything; I believe you HAVE to do some things in order to be ABLE to do other things and other times you just make mistakes… It’s all ok). But in the end, whenever my life will end, I have absolute trust in that it will be my time. No doubt about it. Hopefully it will be when I’m old and wrinkly and calm and peaceful. For what it’s worth, I’m looking forward to a lot of things. I can’t wait to thrive in my career(s), work for what I want, travel, travel, travel, pictures, pictures, pictures, running, cycling, laughing until you cry and surprising people. I love surprising people. So, before we can talk about what scares us about death, we have to get through this thing called life (Prince paraphrased). And that’s something you don’t want to miss. I promise!
Day 19: What scares you the most about dying?