I wrote the last part of this post first, but it was so depressing that I thought I’d better stick closer to this week’s actual topic first. What will I miss when I’m dead?
Well, playing along with the assumption that that could happen, I’ve given it some serious thought. Not sex, I think, because I hope to live so long that I will already have come to terms with missing sex, at least the way it used to be. So far (and I’m pretty sure I’m the oldest one here) my sex life is still fine, with some adjustments. Spontaneity is pretty much out, but we find that it works well to plan a specific time each week (Sunday morning, as it happens—Hi Lily Harlem!) unless health or some other factor interferes. That way there’s no wondering whether the other party is really in the mood, just knowing that we can almost always get in the mood if we try.
Giselle’s post about growing things come close. I’m lucky to have room for a garden, both flowers and vegetables, and plenty of woodland around me for moderate hiking (when my joints will cooperate.) I raise seedlings under lights in the early spring and then plant them outdoors when the weather’s right, and enjoy giving away my extras to friends and family. Growing things is a link to the greater sphere of life that means a great deal to me.
I’m also lucky to have, miraculously it sometimes seems, a granddaughter, and I’m already missing the way she was at every age she’s already been on the way to her current seven years old.
But what I’ll miss most isn’t a thing, or an activity, so much as an abstract feeling. Call it the sense of having a future. I don’t feel old, but I do realize that I have a whole lot more past now than future, and I’ll miss having one, miss still being a part of the continuing world. I’ll miss seeing what comes next. Although, from what I’ve seen lately of aging and death, I’m afraid that by that time I won’t really care what comes next.
Which brings me to the really depressing part. Fair warning.
I sincerely hope that I’m not capable of missing anything after death. I had read about Sam Parnia and his book “Erasing Death”, as Garceus has discussed, and it absolutely terrified me. I’ve been putting off dealing with this topic, but it’s probably just as well to face up to it and move on.
Three months ago I had the main responsibility for the funeral arrangements for my 92-year-old mother. My 93-year-old father had the right to final decisions, but he turned to me for most of it. He’d long ago been clear about preferences for himself, but my mother had wanted to leave it to us, and of course we couldn’t press her to make decisions, especially since she was declining mentally as well as physically.
The funeral itself was lovely. My mother was very musical; I wish she could have heard the wonderful soloist singing the Pie Jesu from Faure’s Requiem. Other than that, though, the idea of the consciousness sticking around while the body decays (or is otherwise disposed of; my father wants to be cremated, and my mother always wanted to be with him, so we did make that arrangement so that they could share a space) doesn’t bear thinking of. But of course I’ve been thinking of it. It’s probably fortunate that I didn’t read about “Erasing Death” until after the interment, although I’d already been trying to ignore “what if…” thoughts along those lines.
So there you go. Question answered to the best of my ability. Even though I wouldn’t have minded missing it. Let’s see, what’s next? Movies! Okay, I can cope.