On late Saturday, when I woke up from my two hour afternoon nap at 5 o'clock I had the feeling of "going down." Ever had that feeling? What is the feeling of "going down?" I think you know, it's the feeling like you're going to die.
At m age (71), when I see so many names in the obituary of the local paper with ages younger than mine. When every year I attend my high school class reunion there are a few less members from my class of 1959. When high school friends of mine who I am still close with are daily facing the challenges of failing health, death is something I think about more often.
Am I ready for death? Yes, in my mind I am because I am convinced (98% anyway) that once I die either one of two things will happen:
I will go to Heaven
I don't buy the man made religious propaganda of modern times that one has to fall on your knees every Sunday and "Praise the Lord" in order to gain entry into Heaven. With all due respect to my friends, relatives and nice folk who read this blog who believe otherwise, I just don't believe it. Call it Free Will or whatever, but it is a theory that just doesn't make sense to me.
When my long time friend Bill B. tells me that the notorious murderer Ted Bundy will get to Heaven before I do because he "accepted Jesus Christ" before he was executed but the nice little old lady who never did anything wrong in her life will not go to Heaven because she didn't accept Jesus Christ....just doesn't make sense. And as Judge Judy says "If it doesn't make sense, it's usually not true."
So as I awoke from my slumber Saturday afternoon I felt like I was dying. That's the feeling one gets when one is passing a kidney stone, you're "going down." And if you're not going down, you WANT to go down just to end the pain.
I tried to work through it. I walked around trying to convince myself I had gas but it just wasn't working. I was going down, down and down. I told Bill "I'm not feeling well." I guess I knew I was passing another kidney stone (my 3rd) but I didn't want to believe that, especially after writing a blog entry about my ambulance trip to the hospital in 1959.
I went into my home office and brought out a picture frame that I had purchased earlier in the day at Walmart. I took the glass out and was cleaning it when the urge to purge came up. I ran to my bathroom and almost made it to my toilet and threw up. Some of my tomato soup lunch got on the bathroom wall next to the toilet and some on the tile floor below (no pictures). That did it. I knew I was passing a kidney stone. Damn!
I went back into the kitchen and told Bill "I'm calling 911 for an ambulance." He said "I'll drive you down." I said "I can't do that because I'll just be sitting in the emergency room for hours and I won't last. I'm going down fast. I can't wait."
By the way, I wasn't talking calmly like I'm talking now. I'm bent over and barely getting my words out, the pain was that great.
The thought went through my mind "What if I lived way out in the country? I would surely die if I didn't get immediate attention, or at least pain killers." Folks, the pain make you go crazy. I cannot emphasize how great the pain of a kidney stone is. If our government knew how to harness this pain they would get every terrorist in Guantanamo Bay to confess to anything they wanted. The power to inflict pain like this is a Dick Cheney dream. But I digress.
But back to dying. I hope when I die I don't go like the pain I experienced last Saturday when I was passing that kidney stone. I hope I die like my cousin Randy who just died in his sleep this past March. Randy is pictured at the top of this blog with his mother, my aunt. Both are gone now. Randy was six years younger than me and in good health. He wasn't ill. In fact, he was in better health than I am now. So, you just never know. Randy's wife sent me a note saying that Randy had always hoped that he would die in his sleep and not like his mother, who lingered in a nursing home in the dementia unit for many years before she died at age 89. However she said, "it was still too soon."
None of us can predict when we die unless it is by our own hand. However, one thing I do know, that when I die it will be a release not only from pain but from the never ending sadness I have from the sense of loss of so many of my loved ones, both relatives and friends and pets who are no longer here. I may have gotten relief from the extreme pain of this past Saturday that was caused by my kidney stone passing but the only "relief" that I will get from the never ending pain that is always in my background now of the loss of my loved ones is the sweet release of death. That is why I am not afraid of death itself, only how I get there.
|Me with my Mother and Father|
In the meantime, while I am living I intend to make every day count. No wasted days. Also I will not waste my time on meaningless activity like arguing arguments that will not change anyone's minds. Seeking friendships where there is none. And trying to please those who nothing you do will please them ever, and not live my life according to someone else's definition of how I should live my life.
What I will do is value, appreciate and reciprocate the friendships that I do have. I will make productive use of my time in activities that are meaningful, productive and appreciated. What I won't do is live my life according to someone else's definition of how I should live my life.
|Me with one of my dogs who is patiently waiting for me in Heaven|
An experience like I had this weekend is just another reminder of how fragile and valuable life is and how we should always treasure every day we have of good health and freedom. And when our time has come to an end, and it surely will for everyone one us, we can go to the Great Unknown (and no one knows The Answer), with the knowledge that we have lived according to our own Truth. If there is a Heaven, I am quite sure no one is going to be at St. Peter's Gate checking to see how many times you went to church or how many souls you saved. Worry about your own self and let the others take care of themselves.
If you live a life of kindness and respect towards others, those pearly gates should be open to you as well. That's all that is needed folks for a life well lived.
For a while this past Saturday night I was ready to go. And I can say with all honesty, I was at peace with myself and ready to go.