Sunday, March 29, 2015

Death

The first person I remember dying on me was my little sister.  She died a week before my 9th birthday.  I lost my first significant person to death before I had my adult teeth.  Less than a month later I lost my Dad's dad, Granddaddy Taylor, one of the men in my life that I knew unequivocally loved me.   Significant for this little girl who's biological father wouldn't know how to adequately express love if a it hit him in the face with a 2 X 4.  I remember as a young girl reveling in the love of my three grandfathers.  I was still so uncertain of my step-dad, the dad who was there for me day in and day out but my grandfathers felt safe and they all seemed to think I was pretty cool.

Fast forward through the long interminable years of pre-teen (tween years) and another grandfather died.  This man was a giant in my life.   His personality filled the room.  He was gone not long after my 16th birthday.

That was the same year I joined a program of shadowing medical professionals in our local high school.  I shadowed a nurse on my very first day.  What did a I do that day?  I witnessed and prepped a body, with its soul now absent, for the morgue.

Death has followed me around my entire life.  I have lost more significant people than can possibly be just.  Death cares nothing for what is just.  Those I haven't lost threaten to be lost with their cancer battles and poor health habits.  Death wants me aware of its haunting presence.  The fact that it needs no invitation to come swooping into my life and wreck it beyond recognition.

Death is right.  It doesn't need our permission.  It doesn't have to warn us.  It doesn't have send us a card in the mail or let us sort out that insurance policy we never got around to.  Death doesn't promise we'll see our daughter walk down the aisle.  It doesn't guarantee that she will get to walk down the aisle.  Death does as it wants.  Tyrannical dictator that it is.

There is no dignity in death.  If we have any left it is not preserved at the end.  Death takes even that from us.

But death is not the final word.  It wants to tell us that it is the end.  That it maintains all of the power,  but one day death too, it will die.

Holy Sonnets: Death, be not proud

BY JOHN DONNE
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more Death, thou shalt die.

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