Every time someone I love is sick I get to thinking about death.
Tam was down with a bad head cold yesterday and I spent most of the day making sure he stayed hydrated and had something to eat even if he was knocked out. As I massaged his head to help ease the pain, I thought about the fragility of the body laying in my lap. I’ve felt the strength of that very same body at the peak of health — as steady as an anchor and surging like the ocean’s deepest currents. In sickness, the body is as brittle as thin ice: unable to bear the slightest weight, uncertain of its entirety in every second.
Sickness scares me. A lot. We only have one body to live our lives with and once that is destroyed, so are we. It doesn’t take very much to destroy a human body either; we’re as fragile as it gets. All it takes is a virus caught on a plane. A slip on wet tile. Failing to get enough rest and eat right. And so: death. The natural consequence of a body destroyed by forces both natural and unnatural. It doesn’t matter — once you’re gone, you’re gone.
Does death scare me? Not when it comes to my own life. Death comes to all of us, in time. Whether he is waiting around the corner or biding his time leagues away, he will find me. That’s alright with me — and I think that for anyone to find peace in this life, one has to come to terms with that at some point. Death is what makes our finite lives beautiful, after all. You’ve heard that before I’m sure. But:
Every time someone I love is sick, I fear death. Every time death threatens to take someone from me, I fight and kick and scream inside, begging for time. Fear brings out the worst in us and fear of death in particular makes us selfish. But it’s something I think everyone touched by love can understand … love might transcend death and time, but having it here and now — in the form of an embrace or a kiss or fingers interlaced — makes one want to hold on to the physical manifestation of my loved one fiercely and yes, selfishly.
Bodies heal, thankfully, and the looming presence of death fades into an old familiarity when I see my loved one’s vitality returning. Death will come for every single one of us, one day. Every breath I take brings me closer to that and knowing that makes every breath special. But if I spent every breath I took actually thinking about that, I wouldn’t have time to enjoy kissing the love of my life, would I? So while I’m here, that’s what I’ll do.