On Death

It’s Christmas Eve and I sit in a chair holding my uncle’s hand. I watch his breathing. Up and down, up and down, up and down… I count the seconds, thirteen pass before his chest rises again. I stroke his paper-thin skin, and tell him about our day. I don’t know if he can hear me or understand but I draw comfort in just talking to him. In the idea that he is listening but simply can’t respond.

Waves pound at my chest. They hit when I least expect them too and try their damnedest to pull me under. It’s not just the death of the man who’s been a grandfather to me, it becomes everything I’ve lost this year. All the loss and hurt stir and swirl until the riptide pulls me under. I count, one, one, two, three, five, eight, thirteen, twenty-one, thirty-four, fifty-five, eighty-nine. I do this until I can breathe again. Until I’ve kicked my way back to the surface. I remember I can’t change the things which have passed, and what will come will come. The only thing I can control is myself and my own actions. I can control how I react to a situation. I can control what comes out of my mouth and from my fingers.

Death is an inevitable part of life. I’ve always been so terrified I wouldn’t live my fullest life and Death would come to me too soon. What if I died without love in my life? What if I never got find the thing that made me special first? What if I died before saying all the things I wanted to say, before I typed all the stories I wanted to type? What if I wasted my life and before I could figure out how to live my best version of it, Death showed up knocking?

I often write about the things I wish someone would say to me. I write of the things I need reminding. I talk about what weighs on my heart or mind in hopes of reaching someone. Maybe that someone is just another soul who gets it. Maybe it’s someone who needed to know they weren’t alone. That someone else in the vast void also feels the same things.

Tonight I’m not afraid of death, I am reminded instead to live. I’m reminded that we don’t know how much time we have. I don’t want to have regrets. I don’t want to wonder what if. I want to know that I tried my best every time. I want to know deep down that I loved with my whole heart, and when it breaks to fish out the glue and try again. I want to remember that a life worth living isn’t going to be cake. Adventures don’t always land on your doorstep, sometimes you must go in search of them. And kindness reaches farther than you’ll ever know.

This is not an easy night. I don’t know what the morning will bring. But I will remember I am the one thing in life I can control. Thank you, Lin-Manuel Miranda, for one of the most beautiful songs.

Love doesn't discriminate 
Between the sinners
And the saints
It takes and it takes and it takes
And we keep loving anyway
We laugh and we cry
And we break
And we make our mistakes
...
Death doesn't discriminate
Between the sinners and the saints
It takes and it takes and it takes
And we keep living anyway
We rise and we fall
And we break
And we make our mistakes


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