There are times I wish I could go to sleep and not wake up. Not that I overtly want death, but rather, some days I am so tired to get up. Many days are rarely the same. I feel great by day. By night, my knee and Sigmoid Colon ache, and a rush of blood oozes forth that’s accompanied by a continuous backache. All of which forces surrender by 8:30 PM with a silent scream, “Fuck it.” Yet, the weird or odd timing of statements between friends compound these endless cycles.
“You can’t die on me,” my mother exclaimed via FaceTime. A friend returning to Taiwan for four months said something similar. “You’re not allowed to die while I’m gone,” she matter of factly stated while dropping her at the airport. I nodded, waved, and wished her well. If she knew I was dying, what, if anything, would be different? I presume she’ll endlessly pressure me to receive treatment, which might be a net gain of some inconsequential months. Indeed, that might make her feel better, live more guilt-free, but the net-gain would do little for me. Internally, I knew sending her off at the airport could be the last time I’d see her.
I have yet to meet anyone who’s survived five years living with the shit I have. Truthfully, I wanted a happy smile. I wanted something fun, more lasting, more intelligible to take with me. I don’t wish for endless tears, sighs, and head nods. As such, I am making sure I receive none. It’s not that I wouldn’t want companionship on this journey. It’s just that I don’t want any additional guilt during the transition. I am already in trouble enough with God. Why add to the burden? Then again, God might argue just the opposite, but I hope He’ll provide a hall pass for the last couple of years.
I wonder, will God be as accountable as I? He’s certainly provided no God-given wisdom that’ll medically cure anything I have. Parkinson’s? No cure. Osteoarthritis? No cure? Cardiomyopathy? Clinicians can delay the inevitable, but still, no cure. Thus, humans are left to our vices. Sure, some might say, “What about alternative treatments?” One person claimed cannabis oil (i.e., medical marijuana) might heal me. After a few months of cannabis oil, I will meet my friend returning from abroad while hopping on a pogo-stick. I know that statistically, alternative treatments fail. Some might help with pain, but not necessarily with the disease. And therein, I find myself with the uncomfortable truth that all who experience the end must learn the same undeniable facts hundreds before learned; dying of ABC (pick your condition and ‘insert’ in place of ABC) is a very individual and personal journey. Some journeys are long. Others are short. I hope to make it to September 2021.
September 2021 is not a hypothetical date. I did not create it out of thin air (though some may claim as much). Instead, I received this via some gut-level (more instinctual) response several weeks ago. After meeting with my case manager, I sat in my car, gripping the steering wheel, and screamed, “God, when will all this shit end?” Almost instantaneously, ‘September 2021.’ I have no clue if this internal dialogue came from God or the squirrel sitting on the tree adjacent to my car with a facial expression saying, “Idiot.” But Biblically speaking, God state’s man’s days are determined. Therefore, maybe He had an angel at ‘Heavens Bureau of Records‘ open the Book of Life, “Tell me the date this ‘dipstick’ checks out. I’ll have the squirrel pass it on.”
In the movie Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring, There is a scene where an old monk is left to reflect upon life’s purpose. Once fully understood that his life’s mission was complete (as some commentators claim), the old monk sensed the exact time of his death. As such, he builds a funeral pyre in the rowboat and, covering his ears, eyes, nose, and mouth in the manner of a traditional Buddhist death ritual, immolates himself while the boat slowly drifted across the lake. Other commentators claim the snake (shown after the immolation) represents the Old Monk who liberated himself from worldly attachments and is reincarnated. (But as a snake?) I will choose the version that sometimes, one may sense real ability to sense death.
So within our current reality, It is important to note I will undoubtedly die. I am 61 and have a shitload of medical issues. (What’s undoubtably strange is that there are folks who have medical problems far worse than I.) As such, I will die sooner than most. The Buddhist in me would state, “That is in the nature of things.” What I find most important is to love unconditionally. I believe God has amply spread love throughout the universe. We need to make the conscious choice to choose love. And it’s within this love that we can make it through the daily grind.