By: Marilyn L. Davis
Do We Think about Dying?
I am not in a particularly maudlin mood today while I write this. I am just reflecting on how fragile our lives are and how quickly we die; sometimes, without every living fully.
I checked Facebook and found out that a friend from the rooms passed away after a motorcycle accident. Then I got a call that another friend is on life-support from an overdose. An email alerted me that another person I’ve known is dying of cancer with no hope of remission. Probably not one of them thought about dying that day.
These made me think of how nonchalantly we go to sleep each night, fully expecting to wake in the morning. I do not think we necessarily take our lives for granted. However, I do not think that we are always aware of how precious, precarious, and unpredictable life is.
We’ll All Expire Someday
While driving to meet a friend the other day, I was listening to news radio. I quit listening to music several years back as I like to play songs I want to hear too loud to drive. That is probably more a comment on my maturity or lack thereof. A reporter broke in talking about a four-car pileup on the Interstate with two fatalities, two home invasions with three deaths, and a single engine plane crash with the pilot dead.
I would surmise that none of those people thought about dying that day, yet that is what happened. Then I thought there are quotes about this that can say it better than I can as a reminder to take each day as if it is our expiration date and make the most of it.
“Every year I live I am more convinced that the waste of life lies in the love we have not given, the powers we have not used, the selfish prudence that will risk nothing, and which shirking pain, misses happiness as well.
No one ever yet was the poorer in the long run for having once in a lifetime ‘let out all the length of the reins.” ~Mary Cholmondeley
Value of Life and Reflections on Dying
I have spent the last twenty-nine years in recovery trying to value each day; be productive, and change, and I hope that I’ve contributed to lives. I’ve given love to the seemingly unlovable addicts and alcoholics who have enriched my life and taught me much. I have risked uncertainties in recovery and tried not to continue with predictable outcomes of addiction.
My realization of the value of life was not an epiphany, striking me with profound insight and wisdom on living and dying; more of a learning experience from seeing how many lives ended quickly from addiction, yet how extended many were by recovery.
Lives Extended and Demonstrating Gratitude
Once a month, I facilitate a recovery support group for HIV Positive people. I drive a sixty-mile round trip. Getting into my car, I am like those people on the news, fully expecting to return home. For the past three years, I have learned so much about the art of living while aware of the possibility of death each day from this group.
Many of these clients are alive today due to advances in medications available, and each has shared with me their profound gratitude for their extended life. Some of them have been positive since the early 1990’s, and can vividly remember when HIV was a death sentence.
All of my clients have had friends, lovers, and acquaintances die before the age of 30. Many of them have experienced overwhelming losses as well as their friends dying. They have all lost jobs, careers, homes, cars, material comforts, or as one of my clients says, “I lost all the things that glued me together, and when they were gone, all that was left were the bare bones. I had to learn to work with just them.”
Bare Bones: What Is Really Important in our Life?
I have no idea who reads my articles nor why. I know that in the bigger scheme of things that is neither my problem nor concern. I write because I have to get these words and these emotions out on paper or be obsessed with them that day.
Writing becomes like glue; sticking all the thoughts, feelings, and reflections together. It as if I dumped all the 1000 pieces of the puzzle and glued them together where they fell; to fit them together to make the picture.
Writing, editing and making sense of the pieces lets me get down to the bare bones of what is important here.
What is important today is that I am doing what I truly want to do and can do, create questions that cause me to ponder, reflect, and then act from my better qualities to give today and not take; to perhaps provide encouragement and hope to another addict who may die without having lived.
I will listen, and I will hear. I will offer my experience, strength, and hope to those who might need it, and I will be a caring, compassionate person who is dying just a little more this day.
If you want to live fully on this journey of life:
- Think about who you really are, want to be and can be
- Find your pieces, make your puzzle
- Create a life of love, caring and supporting others
- Leave a legacy of kindness while still telling the truth
- Put effort into being better today than you were yesterday
- Always have gratitude for those who’ve helped you
In answer to my question, if this is my expiration date, I have lived fully.
Writing, and recovery heals the heart
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