Monday, June 16, 2008

Thoughts about death

I've been thinking a lot about death this past week (that's probably not the best way to start a post!). Two people, under very different circumstances, passed away and it's made me think a lot about life and death and my dad.

Mary Webster was a sweet older woman in our ward. She was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer only one month ago. She bore her testimony 2 weeks ago and then passed away last Wednesday. She bore no signs of illness when she spoke in church. Four days after that she had a stroke and then spent the last week of her life in the hospital heavily sedated to alleviate all her suffering. She was surrounded by her family when she slipped away from this life last Wednesday. While short, they had time to prepare and get their minds around what was happening. I should also point out - her son passed away almost exactly one year ago also from Pancreatic cancer and her son-in-law, also a member of our ward, died last November after a long battle with Lung Cancer. Their family has literally been ravished by cancer the past 12 months.

Silly as it may sound, the other person who passing I've thought a lot about is Tim Russert. I can't think of another TV personality's passing that would make me more sad than Tim's shocking death. I loved the way he explained politics. To this day I still don't know if he was a Democrat or a Republican because he presented both sides so fairly. I naturally assume he's a Democrat because he is in the entertainment industry and because he worked for a democratic elected official but his interviews didn't involve leading questions or snide remarks (a la Katie Couric) so I'll never know for sure.

These two passings have made me think about the timing of death. In Mary's case, while the prognosis was grim from the start, she had time to say her good-byes and come to peace with leaving her family behind. Like my dad's massive heart attack, Tim did not have that chance. I'll never forget hearing the words "Dad died" from my brother and thinking "but I didn't get to tell him how much I love him" or "good-bye" or "don't worry about Mom". It was done. Nothing can undo death. It's final. For my family's sake I'd rather go like Mary so there is time to mourn and hear your living obituary. For my sake, I'd rather go like my dad and Tim. No pain, no sadness at the inevitable outcome. Just gone. But it sucks for your loved ones.

I've also thought about the great injustice it is that you can't be at your own funeral. The TV airways have been flooded with memories and stories about Tim. I feel more now than ever that I wish I knew that guy. While I liked his show, I feel like I've learned of a different side to him that makes me wish I knew him personally. The same goes for Mary. Her funeral was yesterday and, while I've always held her in high regard, I left the funeral thinking that I didn't really know her at all. I wish I could have chatted with her more, gotten to hear more stories about her childhood, or learned how to crochet from her. But I've learned all these things posthumously. I just wish there was an appropriate way to have a funeral before you die. I'd love to hear the things people would say about me at my funeral. I'd love for some young mom to come up to me and say "I had no idea you did that." But that's not how it goes.

I've come to the conclusion that you can't take life for granted. I need to live each day. I need to express my gratitude as I feel it and not save it for some time when I have time. That time may never come and then I'm left with the "I should have told them this" thoughts that just bite. Gratefully, with regards to my father, I know he knew I loved him. There was nothing left unsaid which doesn't happen very often for me!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

This is hard!

I really didn't want my blog to be story after story about my kids. Nor did I want my blog to be a travelogue of our life (mostly because we don't travel anymore per 2008 New Years Resolution #1). My intention is to print this out and have it be a journal of sorts for my posterity. I want them to know me and gain insights into their crazy mom. So I sit and think and think and think about what to write. I have about 20 half-written posts in my mind. There's the one about how I've self-diagnosed myself OCD. There's the one about pushing all my brain cells out with Drew (will I ever be clever again?). There's the one where I lament that time is passing too quickly. And there's the one over my issues with buying a nice camera to capture the perfect moment only to realize that that involves taking 200 pictures and who has time to go through that many pictures to find the captured perfect moment? And can you post without adding the perfect moment picture? It's all very overwhelming to me.

So I decided to post today about how I'm trying to be a blogger but how I much prefer my blog-stocking days. No expectations. No half written thoughts. No clever punchlines. I could just peek in on my friend's lives and live vicariously. Oh well. I'm a blogger now and I kind of like it. I just wish I could figure out what to blog about!