He didn’t say a word. He didn’t strike fear into me. No, he just floated in and made his presence known. I woke up this morning with a whole lot of questions in my mind. Why did he stop by? Why was his visit the last thing I saw before I fell asleep? And why do I remember that image so vividly? I normally remember at least some of my dreams but not this morning. All I see is death, patiently sitting next to me.
I’m not afraid. Not in the least. I haven’t had a fear of death since I was a teenager. In fact, if anything, I kinda welcome it. But I’m in no hurry. I’ve seen death. It’s peaceful. It’s universal. The sooner one accepts the inevitability of their death, the sooner they can begin really living. I think death came to sit with me last night to impress upon me that it’s time. Time to wake up and start living.
A couple of months ago I had my yearly physical. I’m in pretty damn good shape. I’ve been hitting the gym several days a week for the last seven months. I have a diet that even my doctor could find no fault with. And blood test results almost all at or near optimal levels. No reason for concern. But she did feel a small nodule on my prostate and referred me to a urologist. I really thought nothing of it. Until yesterday. Because the appointment is this afternoon.
As I was riding my motorcycle into the office yesterday I started thinking about the upcoming appointment. One might expect a little trepidation. A nagging worry about what might be found. What options are there to take on this threat? But that’s not at all where my mind went. My mind decided to jump to the worst possible scenario. What would I do if I got a death sentence?
I felt an enormous sense of relief. No longer would I have to worry about my retirement money running out. I could quit my job, cash in my pension and travel. A new motorcycle would definitely be part of the package! You can’t take it with you I reasoned, might as well enjoy it while I still could. I felt like I had won the fucking lottery!
So now I sit here in my chair and contemplate the upcoming appointment. And I realize I’m more than a little distressed about the likelihood that the diagnosis will be one of “let’s wait and see”. Because I’m not looking for more time to contemplate my future. I kinda want the universe to give me the message that time’s up and my allotment of tomorrows is almost gone.
You would think I would have gotten the message when my wife was diagnosed with ALS. Or at least when she died. But I’m a guy and I’m kinda slow on the uptake. Our time is finite. We rarely get a notice in the mail that the subscription runs out in six months. No, we just live like it’s gonna go on forever. And our culture inculcates us with the need for security and safety. So we trade our lives for something way off in the distance. A time when there will be plenty of money in the bank and we can do those things we’ve always wanted to do.
Except, when we wait and put those dreams on hold, we get older. Every year a little less active. A little less adventurous. A little more fearful of change. And we slowly let the dreams slip through the cracks. Until the time we actually reach that place in life. We’ve been planning for all it along. A guided foot trek through the Amazon! Maybe skiing to the South Pole! Instead, we settle for a tourism package to Rio. Or a bus trip through wine country. Why? Well, because we’re old, and incapable of living the adventures we dreamed of way back when.
I don’t know exactly what’s gonna happen this afternoon. What the doctor will say, or what choices I might be offered. I do know though, that there is one thing that I won’t be doing. I won’t be feeding the monster that is the medical establishment in this country my life savings so I can maybe eek out a couple extra years of misery. I’ve already had that experience. Nobody I care about is better off now because we once went down that path. No, my future is either long and bright or short and brighter. And I’m perfectly okay with that.
Thank you for reading.