You surf? You young? Get used to the idea of walking frames…
I don’t much fear death. That’s not meant in some bravado soaked, “who wants to live forever?” sense.
Though there’s a decent chance that the things I enjoy will turn off my hunk of flesh one day, I don’t revel in the fact, I take every reasonable precaution to avoid it. I just believe (I’d say know, really, but that smacks of too much hubris to admit) that when we die it’s nothingness all around.
No afterlife, no reckoning. Lights out, you’re done.
May as well have never existed. Maybe in some hippy-dippy, we’re all made of star farts, way our existence holds some meaning outside ourselves, but if you’re not a conscious being that point is pretty much moot.
I’ve come as close to drowning as you can in a controlled setting, I can tell you the end feels euphoric, confusing, and empty.
But aging, she holds some terror.
My landlady had a slip and fall this past weekend. She’s 88, active, and when the ambulance pulled into our drive it scared the shit out of the wife and me. I’ve fallen into a kind of houseboy role for her, nothing crazy, just little things. Fetching shit off high shelves, carrying in groceries, hanging the occasional picture.
No big deal, happy to help. Super minor effort on my end, tons of appreciation on hers. She rents us a nice little two-bedroom at below fair market value, definitely don’t want to kill that golden goose.
She’s got a dark sense of humor, “I read the obituaries to see which of my friends died” and drives like a maniac. Takes a pretty fatalistic view of her ever encroaching demise.
When she got back from the hospital we hung out for a bit.
“I’m just glad I didn’t break my hip,” she said. “When that happens it’s always surgery, then just… death. That’s how it works at my age.”
Which rattled me. I’m only 35, still long for this world, but ridiculously injury prone. A lifetime of broken bones, sprains and strains and tears. Constant trips to the ER, two life threatening infections in the last twelve months.
It’s terrifying to realize there will come a time I don’t bounce back. I’m still young and strong, I heal fast. But I can feel it adding up.
I know I’m not the only one.
A doctor once remarked, as he looked over my medical history, “Your entire generation will be using walkers by fifty.” A few years later he killed himself, rather than go to prison. He wasn’t looking at much time, for a young man.
But he was very old, not likely to see freedom again. Suicide’s the coward’s way out, but I don’t hold it against him. We make our choices.
I, and likely you, have spent decades heaving my body at the ground. Beating my joints into dust, plenty of stretching and creaking and a long hot shower each morning to get moving smoothly again.
I fear how fifty-five will feel.
Twenty more years of this, can I hold up?