I've faced my own death when I was a child and a teenager. In grade school, due to the negligence of ER staff it was missed that I was experiencing a life threatening blockage. Instead, I was dismissed as a whiny child and sent home with pain medications. The following day my parents returned me to the ER and this time the ER staff completed more thorough testing to discover my small intestine was wrapped around itself and surrounding organs. As a result of the delay in treatment, part of my small intestine - including my jpouch- died and my doctors deemed it a miracle that I had survived.
In high school, after my straight pull thru surgery I had so many adhesions from my previous surgeries that a stricture was created around my small intestine. I was constantly barraged by vomiting and excessive diarrhea. To the point that my body couldn't maintain. I was going to the doctor every week for regular lab monitoring resulting in frequent hospitalizations to try to stabilize my out of control electrolytes. The reality was that I was slowly dying. My doctor later told me that she never knew if she would see me at my next weekly appointment, if I would live from week to week.
I recall one morning, the sunlight hitting me on the couch where I spent most of my time as I was too weak to climb the stairs to my room. I remember surrendering to a sense of peace and serenity that I've never experienced before or again since. I sensed death yet it was so serene, it was lovely. I felt safe amidst my world of unknown and uncertainty. And then I was overcome with a sudden urgency to share my goodbyes with my mother. My mother laid my head upon her lap and stroked my hair as I gazed up at her and told her my goodbyes. Her eyes welled with tears as she listened. I was ready. I was at peace. Within the next day or so, I was back in the hospital once again. My doctor told me I was at risk of a heart attack or brain seizure at any moment.
If it wasn't for the unimaginable sense of peace I experienced that morning, I might still be scared of my own death. But instead, it left me in awe to embrace my own mortality. When my time comes, I'm ready. If I don't meet all the goals I have set forth in time, that's okay. I will live without regrets. I do, however, have a preference for my expiration date. I'd like to walk on by the age of 40, for my own personal reasons.
And so it's hard me for to understand the fear others hold about death. I particularly have an extremely difficult time understanding why others are so uncomfortable with my acceptance of my own death. In fact, when others repeatedly question my own acceptance it begins to infuriate me. Do we question that another is scared of their death when that person states so? No. Then why would we question someone who states they accept their own mortality?
To be honest, if I were to develop cancer that required chemotherapy for survival...I'm not sure I would elect to undergo chemotherapy. I'm very tempted to simply let the cancer run its course. It's not a wish for death or a means for suicide. I'm just simply comfortable with death and quite frankly I have an intense fear of outliving my parents. My preference is to not outlive my parents and yet my parents are one of my main priorities in my life. I feel as though my life purpose is to remain as independent as possible so that I may meet my life needs and those of my parents. Therefore, I'm conflicted about accepting such an opportunity should it arise - torn between my preference and my sense of duty to remain living in order to provide any future caregiving needs my parents my require.
I've been embraced by the warmth of death and so regardless if my time comes sooner or later, I will accept and welcome my transition into the after world. The present world will have its frightening moments that challenge us. However, we need not feel frightened or challenged by our own mortality. May we all rest in the peace that is waiting for us when our time nears.