The first year and a half after I came back to Akron, the family was bombarded with death… six funerals to attend. With my sister starting her fight against breast cancer, it was easy to become overwhelmed with morbid and morose. Having slipped into my sixties (or did I fall?) made mortality a touchy subject. Having already lost both parents when my husband took his own life, I took my own hard slide into depression.
Staying any kind of positive is a constantly conscious effort.
We who fear death do so because we don’t trust it — we don’t know what’s beyond that one-way door. There’s a little story that’s relevant.
A man who had been feeling poorly went to see his doctor, who examined him extensively and found that he was forced to deliver a solemn diagnosis: the patient had only a short time to live.
The patient was immediately terrified. “Doctor,” he said, “I’m afraid to die. What happens when we die? What lies beyond death?”
And the doctor, momentarily infected by his patient’s fear, whispered “I don’t know.”
At that moment there came a scratching at the doctor’s outer door. He opened it to find his dog standing there. The dog bounded in and gave him a thorough tongue-bath of the sort dogs use to convey their love of a human.
The doctor petted his dog fondly, and smiled at his patient. “Here is our answer,” he said. “My dog has never before jumped the fence to go exploring. Today he did so for the first time, and came here? Why? What did he know about what was behind that door? Only that his master is here. And that was enough.
“It’s the same with us,” the doctor continued. “We know almost nothing about what lies beyond death…except that The Master is there. And that is enough.”
The fall of 2004: lots of death, mother of one friend, father of another, and, in a very disturbing quirk, the husbands of two others, the women each named Mary. And I was particularly fond of one spouse, a guy named Tom. While the parents were in their 70s or later, Tom was 49, and Bob (the other Mary’s husband) wasn’t that much older. Oh, and my boss, in his 50s, had a heart attack, but survived.