15 August 2013

Death: The Unwelcome Guest



I know she isn’t coming back, but I still think that she will.
Nothing can make that go away.
We figure out what death means when we’re born, practically,
and we live our whole lives in some kind of weird denial about it.
~ Lauren DeStefano, Sever

In August, I’m participating in BlogHer’s Blogging Challenge.  The theme this month is: Hot.


D
eath makes me uncomfortable.

After my aunt P called to say that Aunt G had died, neither she nor my mother carry on the conversation.  My sisters and I call the women on my mother’s side of the family faucets ~ because their eyes drip every time something big or small happens to them.  My father’s side of the family are all stoic Eastern Europeans, so I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen my father cry.  Ergo, my sisters and I fall somewhere in the middle.  I compromise by crying where no one can see me.

Today I am not crying.

Image Credit: Albert Panin 
It’s not that I’m cold or didn’t care about my Aunt G.  She was in fact, my favorite aunt.  The fun, crazy one who would drive us to get ice cream, or plug in her “singin’ machine” and belt out Hank Williams, Sr. songs.  Who would sit outside on the front porch in the dead of winter just to smoke her tenth cigarette of the day.  Who loved Krispy Kreme like a religion, and cooked ham and biscuits better than my mother’s (but never as good as Grandma’s).

But I don’t like to think about death and I hate talking about it.

My default role, in both my family, and among my friends, has been that of the strong defender.  The one who knows the right thing to say, who would drive hundreds of miles to be with someone who needed a shoulder to cry on, or who answers the phone at three a.m. because you couldn’t sleep and needed to talk.

But I turn into an idiot zombie when someone dies.

Any words of wisdom I could say fade faster than the flowers on a tombstone.  And any strong hugs of comfort I could give turn into mutual cry fests.  Or worse, with the bereaved comforting me instead!

When I was younger, I wrote a book report on Kubler-Ross’s book on dying.  I became a teenage expert in grief counseling.  But all these years later, I’m less scientific about it, and closer to the raw reality of death.  Probably because I’ve experienced more losses in last ten to fifteen years than I did when I was a teenager.  When you’re young, you’re immortal, and there is all the time in the world to live your life and accomplish great things.

But by the time you’re thirty, you realize that you don’t have an eternity here, and the time you do have left, well, someone seems to have pushed the fast forward button and the damn thing got stuck!  I can still remember being told back in seventh grade that this would happen.  For some, it happens earlier.  For me, I didn’t wake up until I moved back to my hometown two years ago and realized my parents weren’t young anymore.  Ahhh.  And there it is.  The real reason death makes me uncomfortable.

Now I am crying.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

On a scale of 1 to 10, how comfortable are you with talking about death? 

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