Monday, June 17, 2013

Not the Cheeriest Post You'll Read

Sacchi Green

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.



  1. Ah, Sacchi! I'm so sorry we put you on the spot with this topic. The consciousness of mortality really slaps you in the face when you watch your parents expire.

    Your comments about missing the sense of having a future gave me pause. The fact is, I've never assumed I had a future. I remember growing up during the Cold War, certain that nuclear holocaust would occur long before I got old. I honestly didn't see myself living beyond my forties - just couldn't imagine it would be possible.

    I'd rather focus on now than worry about later (though I do, occasionally).

    Thanks for being willing to endure the discomfort of dealing with this post...

  2. It's okay, Lisabet. I could have chosen to just elaborate on sex and gardening and my granddaughter, instead of venting my angst. It was good to have place to vent, since I certainly can't share this sort of thing with family. I'm supposed to be the calm, rational one who can take care of things.

  3. So sorry to hear of your recent loss. Perhaps your post will prove cathartic. I often find just jotting something down can quell ill humors.

    And I'm not so sure you're the oldest here. I'm 68 and do know there's at least one someone several years older than that. Getting older is what enables us to appreciate what we have. It takes years and many qualities of experiences (and their effects) to have comparisons manifest in our consciousness.

    As close as I've come to dying, (check my post on Wed.) I've seldom thought about it in terms of loss of a future, even though I did understand the likelihood that I'd die.The future is what motivates us to do right now what we want to accomplish, even though it sometimes just seems like we're putting one foot in front of the other. Not long after I was diagnosed with cancer (ten years back) I commissioned an expensive ring to be made. It pays to think positively.

  4. Daddy X, not that it's a competition I'm eager to win, but I've got two years on you (as of two weeks ago.) Came as kind of a shock. I do still have plenty of plans for the future, but I also wish that I'd got started on some of them a long time ago. (I know about the cancer feeling, but I was almost too preoccupied with figuring out how to tie off loose ends for others to seriously consider my own state, which turned out not to be all that bad anyway, radiaiton but not chemo, and I've been clear for almost five years.)

    Lisabet, I remember the Cold War, too. My mother was one to figure out as much as she could about how to cope with things, and I remember going with her to see a prototype of a fall-out shelter, and helping to stock a windowless corner of our basement with emergency supplies, but even so I don't think I took the threat seriously. Must have been that sense of immortality in early adolescence.

  5. my condolences on your loss, Sacchi. my near death experience in 2009 made me realize how precious it is just to be. thanks for your post.

  6. Agreed, Sacchi-- not that it's a competition, but it is a rarity when I meet someone older than I, :>) That cold war getting under the school desky thingy never had much impact on me either. I wasn't aware enough when the first bombs went off. I was lucky enough to think I was living in a safe, secure world at the time. I obviously had a lot to learn.

    Be well-
    Daddy X


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