Today, in its perfect, everyday settling, I thought about death. Not in a depressing way, but as a bookend, a thing that happens to everyone, and is part of a full life. My friend lent me her favorite book, The Undertaking, by Thomas Lynch this weekend. And as I’m reading the short essays by the poet/undertaker, I am looking at people. People I love. And I’m not overtaken by fear.
Here’s what thinking about death is revealing to me:
1. When I had fewer people I loved more than myself, my own death scared me less. Loving makes you look at your own death as something inflicted on the people you love, not as an escape.
2. Death seems like something untouchable and completely unknowable when thought of conceptually. But as a matter of statistics, it really isn’t all that complicated. The select few ways that you could probably die are probably pretty easy to figure out.
3. The way I deal with death reveals a lot of things about me. I live according to how I deal with death, even though, on a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t appear as if death drives my life.
4. Love and death have to go hand-in-hand. Without one, the other completely changes, indeed, perhaps loses, its meaning.