I went to see a doctor for my hip pain, which turned out to be what I had suspected–arthritis and sciatica–only to discover that I also have super high blood pressure, so high that the doctor said I was at risk for an imminent stroke or death. I laughed, which irritated her because she thought I wasn’t taking it seriously, but I was really just in shock. I had walked into the doctor’s office with no pre-existing conditions and was going to walk out with a laundry list of them, making me fervently hope that Obamacare will NOT be repealed!
I always knew that I would die one day. My favorite quote from Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure is “Be absolute for death; either death or life shall thereby be the sweeter.” I had embraced that philosophy, or so I thought, until Wednesday. On Wednesday, I discovered that while I had intellectually accepted the idea that I would die, I had not psychologically accepted the idea that I would die. Death had been an abstraction; now it was a real possibility, and I was a little bit frightened and a little bit sad.
I cannot imagine the world without me in it, and I surmise it is the same for most of you readers. We blithely go through our days, planning for tomorrow and for ten years from now. We rarely think about our mortality, although the only thing that is certain in our lives is that we will die one day. Then, out of the blue, a doctor says that you have this or that condition which could result in your death sooner rather than later if you don’t take care of it, and suddenly you are faced with intimations of your mortality. In an instant, your world changes, and you realize that, yes, indeed, one day you really will die, and that while some people will miss you, most of the seven billion people living won’t bat an eye; they won’t even know you are gone because they never knew you existed. How humbling!
The party that is life will go on without you, and even your saddest mourners will laugh again and go back to the party. That is the cycle of life that each of us must traverse. And I don’t like it one bit. I don’t want to leave the party. I don’t want my children or friends to leave the party. But, leave the party each of us must eventually do.
However, I don’t intend to leave the party any time soon. I will conquer my high blood pressure and whatever else my body decides to give me, and I will fill my dance card, embracing and enjoying every dance that life allows me until the fanfare sounds for me to leave this party, this world, and head to the next one, whatever and wherever that may be.