Does anyone else feel like they pay less attention to deaths these days? Hear me out. I’ve noticed this trend, at least in me, of learning of a person that might have been significant to me has died. I note it, give it a quick “that sucks, for their widow”, and go about my business.
Tim Conway (a comedian I grew up admiring), Bart Starr (a legendary quarterback that I was a fan of), or Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca!) have all died in the past month or so, and I kind of shrugged it off. I didn’t write out some long, heartfelt facebook post about how they meant the world to me. I didn’t really even “mourn” them. I acknowledged the death, thought about their widows for a second, a promptly moved on with my day.
Death happens now. It happens to young, old, married, unmarried, long-term, sudden, the worst of us, and the best of us. It just “is”. It’s not discriminatory or choosy. It’s random. When those deaths occured, they were just one each, in a line of billions over the millenia.
I didn’t know these people personally. I knew them through TV. Through stories, history, movies, and the media. There were other artists and celebrities in my life that may have been more a part of me that have died...Prince, Johnny Cash, even Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle man!). But I didn’t KNOW them. I watched them, followed them, and admired them, but I never spoke a word to any of these people.
All of these celebrity deaths are “that sucks” moments in the grand scheme of things. They pale in comparison to Megan. I won’t call it cynicism, rather, I prefer to just be realistic at this point.
People we love and admire die all of the time. From spouses, to siblings, to parents, to celebrities. Since Megan’s death, I’ve taken all of them with a grain of salt, so to speak. There are no circumstantial differences anymore.
In the past, when someone elderly died, it was “they had a good, long life”
When someone young died, it was “that shouldn’t have happened yet!”
Long term illness? “They were a fighter”
Sudden? “How shocking!”
Nowadays, it’s all “that sucks”. This is such a common mantra that Soaring Spirits even sells t-shirts with “Death Sucks” written on them. It’s an equalizer. We all seem to agree that it just, well, sucks. Each of us have different stories and situations, but we’re all brought together by the fact that death sucks. It’s a period on a sentence, in every story, that nobody ever wanted to see written.
Life sucks, and then you die, right? Death seemingly sucks all of the life out of us for a while, sometimes decades, but ultimately, we still get to experience things, even if they are pain and grief. We also get to experience the world, good or bad. Even if the world shrinks down to a single bedroom where we lie and sob for months, it’s experience. It’s wisdom growing. It’s self-love and compassion and realism being developed through those tears.
It’s the emergence from that where we become aware. We’re aware that death sucks, above all other things. We’re aware that others will die, and we have no control over it. We’ve reached the “acceptance” stage. The next time a trigger or death comes around, those five stages are processed yet again, with a newfound awareness.
Perhaps these feelings are unique to me. Megan had more than a long-term illness. She had a LIFE-LONG illness. She was terminal upon birth, but then again, we all are. I’ll challenge anyone to change my mind on the fact that the absolute number one cause of death is being born. But I digress...Megan was already on her path to death for the entire 12 years of our relationship. When she died, it sucked, but I knew it was coming. We all did. Even Shelby knew.
It STILL sucks. It sucks every goddamned day that Megan died. We are quickly approaching the five-year mark of her death, and we’ve already blown past the five-year mark of her final admittance to the hospital. It still sucks, and it always will.
But I’ve accepted it. I’ve accepted she had a genetic disorder causing her symptoms. I’ve accepted that Shelby was just going to have to grow up without her birth mother. I’ve accepted that even a second lung transplant may not have done a bit of good. I’ve even accepted that we may very well have gotten “the call” for that second transplant, and she would have died even SOONER on the operating table. I don’t besmirch the hospital, her parents, myself, and certainly not Megan herself. It’s nobody’s fault. There is no blame anywhere to be applied. There’s no guilt.
There is only one aspect I can point to when I am aware of how much this still sucks.