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Katy Byrne
What's Up With That?
Katy Byrne

Death and other thoughts of spring

I know writing about death at the beginning of spring is crazy. I mean, it's lovely outside, flowers are blooming and people are buzzing like bees.

It’s just that I keep opening the newspaper and reading about someone else I'll miss in the obits.

So I got to thinking: what’s the upside and the downside of dying? Is death a peaceful break from paying bills, taxes and worry? Will we all be reincarnated? I really don’t want to come back as a snail or a whale... or do it all over again or spend time in hell. I think I already did that during the foreclosure crisis.

Some say we see our old friends, lovers, relatives, cats or dogs. Geez, I wouldn't know what to say, "What's up - up here?" I mean, that would be great -- what a blast to laugh with my dad again. Oh, how wonderful it would be to sip wine with my friend Mona again.

Or my mom, whose epitaph said "I jostled with life, gave it a whirl, a few of its knots, I tried to unfurl – not with much success, but I did my best – now it’s time to take a long rest.” She was fun until the end. I miss her so.

On the upside, people are remarrying when widowed or having a fling in France,writing books, or basking in the sun on picnics. And sometimes death reminds me to be grateful for a sunny day or my limber limbs. It brings a helpful question: what really matters? Do I worry about the garden knowing my ashes could be spread in it? Do I want one last dance around the block with a white haired guy? Or, a young stud? Will I leave a legacy?

Jennifer Bleyer wrote, “It is important for people who are dying to reflect on what gave their life meaning. When patients express regret, anger or guilt, I may gently encourage them to remember what they're most proud of in their life, to help them realize their life's value... I think if we really accepted death and saw it as part of a process; maybe we'd be kinder and more generous and forgiving."

I like that. But I have to be honest: I’m having trouble coming to terms with death. It's not that I dread it. It's not the possible suffering that some people fear; it’s just that I can't believe it's really going to happen to me. What’s up with that? Maybe it’s the culture of denial -- or my survival instinct? Just yesterday I was 16 with no wrinkles in my neck. Where did the time go? Where do we go? Why didn't I plan for retirement? Will I ever finish boxing up old photographs?

Dust collectors go to dust, just as I will. And a will is a hassle and expense. Of course then I stop at the second hand store and buy something used for fun, gotta’ keep recycling. What’s the meaning of it all? Maybe following my bliss, or making a difference?

What’s the upside of death? A reminder to have fun ? Rescue an elephant? Stand up for what matters to us? Go forward with gusto? Go with the flow? Find acceptance and peace?

Steve Jobs said as he was dying, “wow, wow, wow.” So it must be okay -- as lovely as the vineyards in spring. Jobs said, “Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma -- which is living with the results of other people's thinking…. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Is death okay when we realize the flow, the rhythm of nature? I see it in the trees and views, so why not just accept life’s changing cycles? Or is death just a problem when we haven't realized our dreams? Who knows, maybe we’re about to enter a little slice of heaven?

Either way, it's time for a dance to spring,



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