The subject is morbid, especially on this season, but it seems to be on everyone’s mind this year.
We for some reason remember birthdays (or celebrations of birth) but don’t remember death dates unless they are around a holiday.
Now I’m not an expert on death because I haven’t been there yet. I’ve had a few deaths in my timeline and a few times should have followed the light but didn’t. I’ve held death, listen to death, seen death happen and even had to pay for death.
Like most kids, a death in the family was never discussed or at least around us. Uncle Fred just didn’t show up at the family reunion because he killed himself in the garage or there is a picture of a guy in the family album but he didn’t come back from the war.
My first experience with death was a friend of mine from elementary school. We were swimming together at the country club pool using our diving mask and diving to the bottom, touching it then turning back up for air. Just stuff little boys do while their moms are on the golf course or clubhouse. My friend’s mask got caught in a suction grate and he drowned. There was a big church funeral and the entire class dressed up and sat in pews listening to whatever they were talking about while his body was laid out before us. Girls in my class were sobbing and everyone wore black. There were no grief consoling or even private talks from the parents about what had happened. There was just I can’t call Jack to come out to play anymore.
There are a lot of industries built on death. Religion for one is based on believing in and paying dues to whichever God you choose because they have scared the pooh-pooh out of you preaching about heaven or hell. Then there are the undertakers who prepare the body for the after-life in yet another pagan ritual.
So maybe this season between the eating and wrapping and drinking and watching the big game, take out the family album and tell your children about their relatives. If any of your family had illnesses this is a good time to discuss that for further health reasons because so many of us don’t know.
Whatever you decide to tell your children about when grandma died and was called back to heaven or even nightly prayers like “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, and if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take”; kids need to know there is an end to life. Teach them to appreciate it everyday and they will learn to enjoy the gift they have.
Me? Oh I’ve made my deal with the maker. Everyday will stop and stand still and look around. Each day is different and nature changes its rhythm only to be appreciated once.
And if I die before I wake?