If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed an article I posted today from The Huffington Post, titled “The New Grief: How Modern Medicine is Changing Dying, Death and Loss.” (If you haven’t read it, please do so now, I’ll wait here until you come back. 🙂 It’s a surprisingly comforting take on something so many of us fear: dying and losing a loved one.)
Considering all that I’ve been dealing with in the past few months (well, years, but if we’re being honest, I was in a huge state of denial for roughly 10 years – but that’s a post for another time), I found what Joseph Nowinski had to say particularly interesting.
To sum it up, because medical discoveries are allowing us to live longer, receiving a diagnosis of cancer or other life-threatening illnesses gives many patients, and their families, time to digest the information and prepare for their loved one’s ultimate death.
When I first found out I had cystic fibrosis my biggest fear was death. The thought of leaving my friends and family, and not having enough time to do what I wanted with my life, terrified me.
And while I certainly hope I have a number of years left to do things like get married, write a book, and travel the world, it’s not death that’s frightening.
It’s the process of dying.
Like many terminal illnesses, CF isn’t pretty. Now, I’m no expert on all the different things that cause CF patients to eventually die (thankfully), but I’ve read enough to know it’s not fun.
I like LIVING. Taking walks with Mike around our neighborhood… shopping with my girlfriends… driving to my parents’ house for a homecooked meal… goofing off with my sister.
I want to keep laughing, singing, dancing, running, playing…
I don’t want to lie in a hospital bed, short of breath, coughing up blood, getting more and more frail with each passing day.
Like most people (I’d imagine) I’d much prefer leaving this earth while still healthy.
On the other hand, the awareness of my mortality allows me an understanding of the fragility of life that most others don’t get to have.
I can literally feel how tenuous this life is.
But I truly believe that my life is much deeper and richer because of that knowledge.
It’s forced me to sit down next to Death and talk to him about what I want from today. Not next year, or next month, but right now.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”