Yes. I’m writing about death.
This is going to be a slightly awkward post, because I am talking about death. With humor.
When I turned 17 almost 6 years ago, I got stuck with a birthday present for life that sucked (that’s actually a pun-y statement because the birthday present is slowly sucking the life out of me). I got a diagnosed with diabetes. I’ve never talked about my diabetes on such a public platform, but I figured if I was going to talk about death, context would probably be important.
The thing about getting diagnosed with a disease when you’re 17 is that you really don’t take it seriously. Or maybe you do, and it’s just me. You think you are invulnerable. You believe that you can beat anything. I really believe that having that mindset is helpful since it keeps your optimism up which helps you cope with the fact that you just got screwed by life. Unfortunately, we live in a world with people. And one of the things people do – intentionally or not – is remind you that you have a disease that could kill you. They remind you that they knew someone who passed away that had the disease you got diagnosed with. Happy thoughts.
Having spent the last 6 years being reminded on the regular about my imminent death, at some point, I was forced to face the reality of death. And so I did. And here we are.
The two things that every living creature have in common, regardless of when you think life begins, is that these living creatures live (thanks Captain Obvious). Then they die. There you go, I’ve finally helped you figure out what you have in common with butterflies (and spiders, you’re welcome).
Look, I’m not aiming to talk about death in a spiritual fashion. Maybe slightly philosophical. But mainly, the biology (I don’t know if that’s the right word) of death fascinated me. Think about it. Regardless of who you are, rich or poor, black or white, whether you prefer coffee or you’re wrong, at some point we are going to end up in the same place, death’s arms.
How can we understand something like that? I don’t know how to talk about death – physical death – because I’ve never experienced it. And those who have, don’t live to tell the tale. I could talk about anything I’ve experienced first-hand and describe it to you, because I’ve lived it. I can even talk to you about a spiritual death, because I’ve experienced that. I can tell you that cockroaches freak me out because I’ve seen those vile creatures. But death… I don’t know. People say they fear death, but how do you fear something you haven’t experienced (this is obviously pointed to those who haven’t had a literal life and death situation). I’ve used the term “scared to death” metaphorically, but I think a statement like that disrespects the permanence of death. If I was scared to death, I’d assume I’d permanently be scared.
Speaking of permanence (again, NOT speaking spiritual so don’t respond spiritual), what else is permanent in the world except death? Even life, which is the opposite of death is temporary. I mean, that is power. If death was a person, I have to imagine that it is the most powerful person. Because every creature kneels to it at some point.
I respect death (again, physical death, not spiritual. Whole different conversation). I don’t fear death. But that isn’t a statement of courage. It’s matter of fact. Why fear something that is inevitable. I’m in Starbucks right now and I’m surrounded by diverse group of people who are all going to die. This isn’t the pessimist or cynic in me talking. It’s, quite honestly, the realist. If death is going to come regardless of how life is lived, why not live a life of content – and when death comes knocking, invite him with open arms? Now here, I do have to consider spirituality. “Life of content” is different for different people. I may be suffering for my faith, but it’s still a content life. What your definition of content is, that’s up to you.
I enjoy cake. I love a happy slice of apple pie. Sometimes I indulge myself. As a diabetic, that’s not always (actually not ever), healthy. I’ve had people who truly care about me remind me that with my disease, and the way I’ve lived my lifestyle, I’m going to die at 40. My response, “Crap. I was going for 30.” Totally kidding. But seriously though, I get it. I do. I’m disease ridden and the way I live my life can lead to an untimely death. Truth be told, death is going to come anyway. So, who cares when? I’d rather have lived 40 happy years than 70 years of following a set of rules that’s simply boring.
The counterpoint to that mindset is that, what if you have a family who is dependent on you. Do you really want to leave your wife and child, a widow and fatherless? Honestly, I hate that argument. I truly despise it. Why? Because I don’t see myself having a wife and kids. Am I saying that won’t happen? No, I’m not. I can’t tell the future. But consider the person who is telling you he’d rather die happy at 40 than bored at 70. It’s a single, male, who other humans are not depending on (in a familial manner). The context that I see myself now is the same context I see myself when I’m 40 and when I’m 70. Single, with no dependents. This tune of my song could change tomorrow, if the context of my life changes. I don’t know if it will, and frankly, I don’t care. That’s an ocean to cross then.
Today, I’m 22 and no longer a fool of a teenager. I’m still diabetic and I’m taking it more seriously than I did back then. Why? Because, I’m smarter than I was back then and even if I only live to 40 I don’t want that time to be painful. But death, still will come. And I’d rather go with him knowing I didn’t let a disease dictate my life. Instead, I enjoyed life to its fullest. And for those who still are alive, I’ll ask death if he could do y’all a solid and also take decaf coffee away.