I’ve always said that if I were diagnosed with late stage cancer, or any kind of terminal illness where the odds were 20% or less at surviving, I’d forgo treatment. I’d live and love out my days without machines, chemotherapeutic measures or anything else that would prolong my life but decrease my quality of life. I wouldn’t want it. I’d want to die with dignity, on my terms and without the judgement of others. There are numerous debates I’ve been reading about this right to die debate and I’m also recalling as a kid, the whole mess with Jack Kevorkian. Look, if people want to die by physician assisted suicide or by regular suicide, they should be allowed to and it IS their right to want that.
My mind is fixed on this because I’m watching The Affair on Showtime and one of the characters is terminally ill. He wants to die without treatment and his partner is losing her shit. She wants him to fight and his mother wants him to fight and it’s like he almost has to choose between himself and and minding the hearts of the people in his life….fuck that. I think for the most part, a lot of us are picking and choosing to do what’s right for others. With the exception of a few people, the general public yields and bends to the needs of others. This is expected and common among spouses and of course parents or caregivers. We are expected to think about how others will feel if we should die. But, I’m sorry, in my moment at the very end of my life, I care that my kid will be able to be financially independent, have mental and emotional fortitude and the skills to carry on with her life despite the loss of her mother. It will hurt and it will leave a void but I wouldn’t want my death to define her nor cripple her in anyway. If anything I’d hope she would continue with my spirit of loving life and she went on to live for herself, find her joy and be the space for love and light for herself, first and foremost and see what’s left for others.
Funerals are for the living. The dead are already gone and transitioned into the next realm. Often, I find that people become obsessed with comparing stories of how much they loved the deceased and how much their death is impacting their lives and who is actually more sad. But the honest to God truth is that we live with an enormous amount of regret and sadness when a person dies. We do not say how we feel enough, we do not lean in enough, we do not actually care and make life work as much as we think we do. In fact, the love that is present and the feelings that are present when we mean to check in…the intention is good but more often than not, we procrastinate and we don’t get around to calling or leaning in to see what’s good. Death is a part of the cycle of our life, whether it is sudden or expected, it is something that we all deal with and will experience one day. The very least we can do for someone, is to help them die in peace, if that’s their request.
It’s a bit morbid to think about BUT losing a lot of close people at a young age, has made me aware of how I operate. I turn my phone off at night because I refuse to accept death news when I’m being jolted out of my sleep. Nothing will change if they are already dead, I can deal with it after I’ve already slept the whole night. I tell my peeps how much I love them as much as possible, and I do as much as I can to lean in and check in because I don’t want to have the regret of procrastination. I do the shit that I like and take risks and live life passionately because I won’t be able to do any of that shit when I’m dead. Life is for living, I’m going to live it. I’m going to learn from my mistakes, dig deep into my self expression and then work it out from there. My life is mine and I don’t need a co-sign. I’m going to live it and love it for myself because in death, it isn’t possible. Each day can be our last…live it boldly.