Did you ever go to a party when you were a child and your parent told you it was time to leave before you were ready? That’s how I feel about death. I’m enjoying the party too much to want to leave. Although my ‘parent’ hasn’t told me it’s time to go just yet, I know they will before I want to. I can’t see me ever being ready really, though perhaps whatever cruelty nature visits upon my body and mind in years to come will change my mind about that. But as things stand, despite my fibromyalgia (a constant painful companion) and the levels of anxiety I allow myself to feel over trivial matters, I really have too much to live for. My partner Dennis and the adventures we have together; my family with my lovely grandchildren; my friends with whom I spend many good times; the many, many simple pleasures of life; everything I still want to do and try.
So, as the days, months and years roll by at an alarming rate – there’s definitely more of life behind me than there is front of me – it’s these things that matter in my life.
All of this might suggest I’m afraid of dying. While I doubt the process of dying will be much fun, having so much to live for – enjoying the now – dispels, perversely, the fear of death itself. I’ll face it when I get to it, raging, I hope, against the dying of light, throwing a shameful tantrum because the party will go on without me. I’ll die, though, in the knowledge I actually got to it when so many didn’t. I’ll have enjoyed it too, for the most part, with a only a few bad times, fewer regrets and many more memories.
As Christians often tell those of us who are delusion-free, I am without hope. Of course I have hope – in continued days and achievable happiness – but none that there’s existence beyond death. I am confident there isn’t. Consciousness is completely dependent on the brain; when my brain dies, so do I. That will be that. The fantasy promoted by the New Testament, that there’ll be eternal life in a new body, is nothing but hopeless wishful thinking, that in spite of overwhelming evidence we go on. There is instead serenity and purpose in accepting the reality of death. It’s part of the deal, after all.
So let’s all eat, drink and be merry, as Ecclesiastes says. Enjoy life and help others, where we can, to enjoy theirs.
Dennis and I will be on one of our adventures when next I’m due to post. While I’ll set WordPress to publish it, I can guarantee it won’t. If I can do it manually (depends on whether I have a signal) I will. Otherwise I will see you on my return.