Beating Death

I’m terrified of death. I don’t really know how anyone could not be or how we could rightfully be expected to stare into the wet eyes of someone who owns a piece of our heart and know it may be for the last time. My brain doesn’t feel big enough to process the impossible thought of seeping back into nothingness. Of saying goodbye to the morning. Of permanently being out of reach. I want and I try to believe in something bigger than us and in the promise of eternity but it is easier to conceptualize in the theoretical than in the actual. As my dad is fast asleep for the seventh day, breathing heavily and hugging death, it is harder to trust in infinity because it feels entirely the opposite. It feels he is disappearing against his will when he so badly doesn’t want to go. He doesn’t want to have already ridden his last wave or caught his last leaf. He wants to meet my babies and to hear the chickadees this spring. He doesn’t want to let go of my mom’s hand. He doesn’t want the end because he is accustomed to living his life at the starting line. He is accustomed to waking up and saying what a beautiful day, let’s not miss a minute. He is not ready. But maybe all we can hope for is to not be ready for death. To hunger for life so voraciously that leaving it feels like starvation. To inhale so much from each day that to not have another feels like you are suffocating. To love so god damn hard that to lose someone feels like losing yourself. Maybe that’s it. And that is what my dad has done. He has proven to us that there is no such thing as a bad day and that love is visible in actions and in always being there and that the sun is a gift to be opened and how to work really, really hard to get what we want and to never say never and how to infuse laughter in every situation and to use the cashiers’ names and that it never hurts to ask and to always pack sneakers in case there is a race, and how to make a parade out of dead sunflowers and how to see a single patch of snow and deem it sufficient to ski and how to never pass a farm without mooing at the cows, and how to bring light into every room and leave people feeling happier than they did when you entered, and how to wake up every single morning and be grateful that we were given another day and to take that day and pack 5 normal human days into it. This is how my dad has lived. And when he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, he didn’t change a thing about his life. He didn’t start living like he was dying. He kept living the exact same way he had been living before. I think that is the ultimate. To be at a place in life where when death calls, you don’t change how you are living and you just wish you could have more time to keep doing it. Maybe that is how we conquer our fear of death.  To see life as the opponent of death and to play hard. If those are the rules, then it was a shutout. My dad beat death by never ceasing to live. He isn’t ready to die but he never would be. And maybe that’s the most beautiful thing.