Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Some Thoughts on Death

Another day at the hospital with my grandmother and her death is bringing up so many things for me.

My husband has tried to be very supportive of me and I appreciate that. But I can not help but remember how he responded while my grandpa was dying.

I thought I had gotten over that, but I have not. I still am resentful. I think, why is he suddenly being so nice now when we are nearly divorced? But years ago, when I was his wife, who had been with him through the recent death of his mother, bore him 2 children and suffered a miscarriage - in the midst of caring for my dying grandfather - and he told me to "Get off the cross - someone needed the wood."

Yesterday a woman that I adore from church, who is much older than me and has known my grandparents for 30 years, told a story that also probably brought back that memory.

She talked about how after her second divorce, she decided to rename herself. And she took away her middle and last names, and gave herself the middle name of the daughter she had miscarried and a new last name.

It was a beautiful name.

That resonated so well with me. I still think about that child a lot, and to me, she was a girl, and she would have been named Grace.

My grandmother and I spoke today about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan today and their utter meaninglessness to both of us - and that was another resentment that came up for me strongly. We here in the United States cling on to our own lives so dearly. We will do anything to avoid dying. And yet we seem to have no problem with the deaths of "others" who we perceive to be so different from us.

I remember when I was in Lebanon, one of the hardest things for me to deal with was the death of my first husband's childhood best friend. He was only 8-years-old when the Israeli soldiers killed him.

I will never forget going to his parents home with H. The way his father sobbed. And then I sobbed, and H sobbed. But I could not stop.

I remember that my sister-in-law came to me in my room after hours of this. She took me square by the shoulders, looked me in the eyes, and said, "Everyone dies. Everyone dies."

I have never forgotten those words. I have never forgotten how senseless his death felt. And I think if more Americans saw that, they would realize that war is never a good idea.

My sister-in-law's words have carried me through a lot of deaths though over the years. And she was right about that. We have a culture here in the US that does not acknowledge or accept death. But death is inevitable for all of us.

The combination of the fear of death and medicine for profit is a very bad mix.

I also spoke to my grandma about my other grandma today. I spoke to her at length last night. She told me again that she plans to just be here and happy with all of us one week and be "gone" the next. She refused chemotherapy or any other treatment. She just wants to be as healthy as possible naturally as long as she can and then she will chose her time.

My grandma thought that was horrible, but I relate to that more. I don't want to live on 15 medications on a good day. That is not life. My grandma is nearly 93-years-old. Some of the things they are suggesting for her are insane. That's not even humane in my mind. But she is afraid. And fear makes for good profits.

The only conclusions I can draw is that all of us have worth. And, we all die.

I adore both my grandmothers. I adore that boy that died just from the words of his family and the love of that first husband had for him.

None of us has greater or lesser worth. The death of one person is just as painful for their loved-ones as my grandmothers deaths will be for me.

There is no sense in death. You just have to make peace with it.

And I can accept the deaths of the matriarchs of my family. But I know how hard for me it has been to lose a child that essentially never even existed. I have never been able to make peace with wars that kill children who do.

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