Sept. 16, 2022

Nothing is Permanent

Mortality is interesting. Bear with me, things are probably going to get weird.

I have always had a morbid relationship with death. People try to reason with me; you were born alone, you die alone. Everything that lives must die. Fuck that - I did not ask to be born!

I do not remember when all this started; maybe as I got older? As I have more to lose? As I lose loved ones? Maybe I inherited some of it from my mother. That woman died with grace, dignity, and a (morbid) sense of humor that will likely go unmatched for the rest of my life. I could write a couple blogs about my time with her in home hospice. So could Ken.

The one idea that has always stuck with me is that nothing is permanent. As I write this, I will never get this moment back. Tomorrow, things could be completely different for me for a vast number of reasons. In fact, by the time you read this, there is a possibility I will not be here. Weird. I spend so much (too much) time thinking about it. Some of it is my anxiety, and as of late, I realize a lot of it is because I am so grateful for the life I have, and I just want to hold on to every single moment I possibly can – not a bad problem to have if I could manage it appropriately.

All too often, I see it. We lose someone unexpectedly and we do not have the chance to say what we wanted to say, clear the air, make amends, love a little harder, try a little more. Years ago, I insisted on writing a eulogy for Ken. He thought it was crazy, morbid, highly awkward, and uncomfortable. I did it, I read it to him, and it actually turned into an awesome experience. I did not do it to be morbid, I did it so there were no questions about how I felt about him while he is here – while I could tell HIM what he means to me and how he has changed my life. I did the same thing with my mother. We decided I would write her obituary and eulogy before she died so she had a chance to hear it. She loved my eulogy so much; she asked me to read it to her every single night. I know it is weird, but really, it is quite a gift to be able to tell someone before it is too late. Nothing is permanent, a blessing and a curse.

I have been around dying, I have never been around death, until my mother passed. As I mentioned, mom opted for home hospice. It terrified me because of, well, my morbid relationship with death. I was her primary caretaker at home, and sheesh, did I have to put some shit aside and be brave for her. The last couple of weeks of mom’s life were hard. Really hard. Cancer riddled her body, likely for years before it was discovered. Once she found out, she wanted no part of treatment. I do not even know what kind of cancer she had (we suspect lung), but we knew it was terminal based on symptoms and how it manifested. She decided to cut it short and celebrate, as opposed to extend it out and suffer. She did just that. We went fishing every week. We had conversations that would have never happened if we did not know she was dying. She helped me heal deep childhood wounds. She explained things from a point of view that I would have never considered. We cried. We laughed. A lot. Despite hearing the footsteps of death creeping closer, getting louder. Every night my younger brother and I crawled into bed with her, and we would talk for hours. We came out the other side of her death different people, with more understanding and compassion and a newfound respect for mom. She made dying a healing process for us, which is the most precious gift anyone could give someone.

…and I thought I was being brave…

I read a fact recently that the brain is aware of death; meaning there is some level of comprehension after we die, for up to minutes. It was so compelling to me; Ken and I discussed it on the show.

I was with mom when she took her last breath; it is a moment forever frozen in time. At around 9pm I was holding her hand, laying in bed with her, and she opened her eyes. She was looking right at me, like she was there, but not. She could hear me, but it was like she was watching a movie – she was seeing something I was not. That lasted for about ten minutes. I whispered every single thing I could think to say while I still had the chance. Then it happened. I saw my mother leave. I cannot explain it, but I know I saw it. Her eyes changed and I was looking at a shell. She was declared dead at 9:16pm.

I am not a religious person, but I am spiritual, and I do believe something must happen to our energy once we are no longer trapped in our bodies. Ken and I read The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and it is probably the closest thing I can relate to based on my beliefs. It is believed that the dead can hear you weep for them, and it scares them as they make their transition. I remember watching mom take her last breath, and then I ran out into the living room to belt out a sob. I did not want to scare her. That is when I realized that my spirituality is imbedded in me more than I had every realized.

That fact – scientific evidence that the brain knows you are dead after you die.

We have this timed journey, and it just so happens we are spending our time here together. I want each and every one of you to know that you have shaped who I was, who I am, and who I want to be (in some cases, who I do not want to be). I am grateful for the time you share with me, for the memories and experiences, the laughs, the tears, and everything in between.

Have the difficult conversations with the ones you love if there is something left to be said. Difficult conversations are worth having. Enjoy the easy conversations too, those are even better.