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Afraid of Dying

What I fear most about dying, is not knowing for sure where I’m going. I remember when I was in training as an orderly at a nursing home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the training instructor taught us to never just get behind the wheelchair of a patient and start pushing. She explained that while a resident is sitting in their wheelchair, perhaps even dozing off, that the initial start can frighten them half to death, and that not informing the resident beforehand like this, “I’m going to take you to the dining room now, Mr. Schmitz”, erodes the dignity of a resident. They may feel a loss of control.

Would mother Universe please tell me what it will be like? I have begun to form my concept. By working on this gradually, I’ve noticed that my anxiety over transitioning has lessened to a degree. My version that I’m comfortable with for now, goes something like this:

My version is much like what the renowned psychic, Sylvia Browne suggests in her books, which is gleaned from her own psychic journeys beyond with her spiritual guides and from her impressions during psychic readings. In her version, which I easily claim as my belief, is that the real transition itself is painless, and that there is no further attachment to this physical world in the mind.

A tremendous and brilliant white light is our Guide and we will have an overwhelming sense of trust and love in our Guide. Others who have gone before us are there to greet us. Even those beloved pets we lost are there! I’ll see my grandfathers, my mom, even my dogs Heidi, Jessie, and oh my dear CoCo. And my cats Samantha and Maya!

Everyone on the other side looks the way they did when they were around 35 years of age. Communication isn’t through words any longer but rather telepathically. There is a continuous beautiful melody of music everywhere. Time on the other side is different from this world that we know now. What we know as a lifetime to us here is a mere blink of the eye on the other side. Before we know it, those that we left in this world, are right behind us. 

It has been explained to me that we didn’t know where we were going when we were born, or came to this world, and that it is OK not knowing or fully understanding where we’re going when we make our transition. That’s something I’ll have to work on; trusting in mother Universe’s ability to take care of me. Even the last leg of life’s journey is packed full with lessons. Right up until the bell sounds for the next class to begin.

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In Memory of My Other Mom, Dorothy

January 23 is the “death day” of my second Mom. Dorothy Eshenbaugh was the step-grandmother of my last partner. I’ve blogged about Dorothy on many occasions. During our brief five years as my “Mother-there-ought-to-be-a-law,” we experienced a lot of life together; there were ups and many downs. But the love between Dorothy and I was always stable. We had a hell of a lot of fun together; we played a lot of Dominoes, laughed our asses off, and cried some too. We’d get mad at one another, like everyone does, but it never lasted for very long. She always knew the easiest way to solve a family argument would be through me and not her step-grandson. Dorothy didn’t like it when we weren’t talking. I remember how she would often hold my hands and those of my partner’s in hers and she’d say; “Now fella’s we have to stick together. We’re all we’ve got as family goes.” You see, Dorothy had a respect for communication between family members. Dorothy was in end stage renal failure, and hadn’t spoken in a few years to her sister, Betty or her mother. But Dorothy and I worked on a beautiful letter that she mailed to her sister so proudly one day. Dorothy was going to put an end to the silence.

Dorothy hardly gave the envelope enough time to get through her own post office before she started checking her mail for a response from her Betty or mother. Then, weeks went by and then months. Dorothy’s sad attitude gradually lifted and she shrugged it off and said, “Wasn’t meant to be I guess.”

Dorothy died on January 23, 2008 of end stage renal failure. I often feared that when the end would come for her that she’d be alone; I knew that was one of her biggest fears as well. When she transitioned from our earth, her beloved companion Rascal was at her side. Dorothy joked that Rascal in a strange way looked a bit like her deceased husband, Robert, who was the love of Dorothy’s life! You know, I never could really disagree with her! I think somehow Robert reincarnated into that dog!

My former partner and I knew that Dorothy’s prognosis didn’t assure us any real definitive time with her before the end would come. So, we made every birthday and holiday as special as we could for her. In the five years that Dorothy was in my life, she lived life. She went to church every Sunday and put in a prayer request for my ex and me every Sunday as well. Dorothy was a good mother to me, at a time when I didn’t have one. My own mother died many years before I met Dorothy. When Dorothy learned my mother was deceased, I could see how she put herself in that role for me. I never complained one bit. It felt nice to be loved again in that way that only a mother can.

I know Dorothy is at rest and still living fully in another plane of existence with her beloved Robert. These beautiful memories I hold of our time together and knowing that Dorothy is once again reunited with her husband who she loved so much, make it easier each day to feel a little less pain about the loss and the feeling of that space filled by joy and happiness that things are as they should be.

Dorothy’s mother and sister eventually learned of her death. I always knew and felt so strongly that someday, even though my former partner and I were no longer together, that I would, in some way shoulder the responsibility of informing them of  the details of their family member’s demise.  The situation did unfold that way as my ex-partner never told them. When Betty reached me and I had given some of the details of Dorothy’s life those last few years, I inquired about that damn letter, which, they never received. Dorothy’s sister Betty and I have, through this odd process, become a unique pair of friends. Good friends in fact. We’ve never met in person (at least not yet anyway) and most of our communication is through email. Betty and I have a connection though. I have made a personal commitment to myself that this summer, I am going to make a trip to the small Texas town Betty and her family lives in, and have an opportunity to meet them all. In a strange way, they already feel like family to me. I almost found myself writing to Betty the other day, “We’ve got to stick together Betty, we’re all we’ve got you know…”  I know Dorothy is smiling as she’s standing next to her Robert, as she watches the friendship form between us.

To Dorothy, I send wishes of eternal peace, love and happiness, and all the “Robert time” possible.  Before you know it Mom, someday you’re going to realize I’m there with you too, and then you better get out a good set of Dominoes, OK?  Love you so much, Mom.

Your son,

Mark.

 

Death in the Abstract

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“It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”   — Woody Allen

Even after a recent near death experience, I tend to think of death in the abstract, as a fact rather than a reality.  I know that everything passes and that we are bound to die, but I rarely allow myself to accept the reality of dying and being dead. 

Is this my way as well as that of others who refuse this fact our way of avoiding the reality of death?  It may be that we can only think of more worldly, mortal acts as a new beginning, a false sense of perpetual renewal, even a kind of rebirth.  Especially in fantasy and maybe even in our relationships, we are always “falling in love” all over again.  Always young, always beginning again, always keeping our options open.  Never settling into the contentment of a commitment. 

As we begin to mature and develop through our efforts of personal growth, we can learn to integrate our thinking and feelings about death into our daily lives.  We can sense death as an integral part of life, and not just as an abstract finality.  This can become part of our process of learning to experience reality in all its stunning diversity.  Life can become more precious as we realize that we must leave it. 

 

I’m Standing At The Edge of a Cliff

I‘m standing at the edge of a cliff. That damn tape keeps playing in my head. It’s the old one. The one that makes eveIything look black and confusing. I look around and nothing, no place feels like home. It all feels cold and impersonal, and not mine. Everyone around me seems fake and superficial and carrying out a life’s plan just for their own gain. But that tape that’s playing, “I hate my life, I hate my life, I hate my life…”I feel like a ghost moving through the thick tide of a life that was once lived. A life that was normal, with things, people and events I took for granted. All of which is gone to me. I strive to create a normal pattern or flow to my life, only to have it subdued by the life I live now. A life that isn’t real. That feels good for only a moment, and then leaves me feeling guilty and paranoid. Sleep doesn’t come to me. I get stuck on one thought or one task. I realize that responsibilities are not met. I don’t even know what day of the week it is. I can’t recall when the last real meal was that I ate, and I can tell I’m dehydrated.

And I’m still feeling unfulfilled, lost, alone and afraid. I look around me and see disarray and disorganized projects. I unleash my anger toward my partner, placing all the blame on him. All I want is a normal life. I want the life I used to have, but gave up. I was so dumb. I beat myself up in my mind, over and over again. I want to feel joy. I want to laugh the way I used to laugh. I want to take care of my pets, and my home, and my partner the way I used to.

I’m sick. There’s always something wrong with me. I feel as though death could transition me at any time. So why do I persist? There are people, normal people that love me. They care for me, and will never accept this life for me. Yet I make every attempt to disguise my real life, hopefully making them think that I walk with them in the land of normalcy. But the bizarre thing is, they can see that I walk through their world differently than they do. They know. But only I can go back to the world I should be in. It’s all up to me. And until I have that insatiable desire to return, my attempts will be futile. But how much longer do I have? I’m all ready two years into a two to four year death sentence. So much I allowed to slip away. I had it all. Once. And just look at me now. No. Don’t look at me. I’m too ashamed.