Death

Imagine you are sitting in traffic in a foreign city when suddenly a car comes flying out of the clear blue sky and smashes your car. DEAD. This is the constant thought that buzzed through my 7 year old head the entire time my family was on vacation in Branson Missouri. Looking back, my ridiculous fear of death by flying car probably had more to do with my father recently having a seizure.

Before I witnessed my father flopping around the floor of the local supermarket I had never experienced a life or death situation. Yes, to most people a seizure is not considered a life or death situation. I was only seven years old at the time so I thought for sure my father was dead. Of course he was perfectly fine. Shortly after witnessing that, my 17 year old cousin died. Her death was my first encounter of it at all. It’s difficult to understand at such a young age. Someone you love and care about is here one minute and gone forever the next. It took me two hours on a car ride home from a family get together before I could even accept what had happened. My mother had known a day or two before but had trouble telling me. “AJ has been in a 3 wheeler accident. She was life flighted to a hospital but didn’t make it”. I cried our entire way home, taking breaks only to ask ,” are you sure? are you just kidding?”. I began thinking about unrealistic, insane, and bizarre death scenarios. Death made me realize that nothing is constant and in all reality ANYTHING is possible even the possibilities we don’t like. And so you see, this is when I had the unrealistic thoughts of killer cars flying out of thin air.

Shortly after my cousins funeral, which was the first I had ever attended, my great grandmother died. She was very old. I hadn’t ever known anyone to die of old age. This was something else I started to worry about. After her funeral I cried to my mother, “I don’t want you or dad to get old and die”. She was shocked I was even thinking such things, especially considering she wasn’t even 40. 

The thoughts of horrific death had ended for quite some time, then I turned 20. I began having the brutal death thoughts once again. Sometimes I would simply be sitting in my living room watching tv in the evening and out of no where I would see ,in my head, the little movie of an atomic bomb hitting Missouri. Of course I would never survive an atomic bomb if it hit Missouri. The type of death I fear the most is the death you don’t see coming.  Everyone is afraid of having zero control. 

Pompeii, an entire society gone in just one single day. Can you imagine? Natural disasters occur all the time. I think of those too. Pompeii happened then, who’s to say it couldn’t happen now? A little shake here and there. Then, suddenly, an enormous rumble. What would you feel exactly if a volcanic eruption took your life? Would you have time to run? Would you even see it coming? Would you scream in absolute terror as the scorching hot lava kissed your skin for the very first nano second? Or would it happen so fast you don’t even have time to think?

Here’s the honest truth about death. No matter how fast you can run or how well you hide, death is going to find you. Overthinking will get you nowhere. When I consume myself with hideous thoughts such as these, it simply takes the joy out of any moment I’m in and makes my heartbeat race, faster and faster until I can think of something more lite hearted. Death is inevitable. What makes it scary is it is the most unknown calamity that will ever happen to us. Nobody knows what comes next and even more terrifying is the question if there even is a “next”. Endings are hard to accept, especially when it comes to our lives. How can we do all of this and then just like that, it’s over? Who knows? Accepting it as fate is the only antidote to fearing it. Once you can accept death as certain, you will welcome it and it will smother you like a relaxing blanket. So live it up, do as much as you can, and die on.

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