Death is the great equalizer. No one ever escapes it. While some know when the time is near, no one in general, knows when it’s going to happen. Most people don’t like to think about it, but not me. I think about it all the time. I’ve lost several friends through the years. My brain is really split when I think about it.
My friend Carl, had just turned 35 and was taking one of his roommates out for a drive at night so he could smoke a cigarette. It was November and bitterly cold outside. Carl didn’t smoke but his friend did. I had spoken to him earlier that night. Western North Dakota at night was a dangerous place, especially in 2014. The oilfields brought 24/7 traffic and work to the region and there was millions of dollars to be made. So on a cold night, my dear friend Carl was struck and killed instantly by a speeding truck driver. The passenger, who Carl took for a smoke, survived. I think about Carl a lot. He was a helluva guitar player. Way better than I’ll ever be. At 35. What a terrible loss. Carl had a lot of life left to live. He was just getting started.
One month later I lost my own father. For those who have lost a parent – it’s devastating. I was there by his side when it happened. I think about my dad everyday and I can remember vividly all the events of that day and those that followed. My dad, did not fear death. He had very strong religious beliefs and death was just another part of life.
In my current state and head space, I think about my own death. Often. I don’t fear it. Not necessarily for religious reasons, but it’s not one of those things I can’t even talk about. I know its real and will happen one day to me. There’s been several times in my life when I’ve looked at the choice of ending my own. I can vividly see it. It’s violent yet peaceful at the same time. I can feel the weight of a gun in my hand. I carried them for years in the military. I can feel the cold steel and how my hand warms the grips. I can feel the spring tension and quality of the build as I load it. I can feel it against my temple and the hard ring of the barrel as its pushed against my skin. The 3 or 4 pounds of trigger pull. The loud crack. When I was with my father at the end of his life, I held his hand. He was on a machine and his body was still working. My hand was sweaty in his hand. When the time came and as the minutes passed afterward, I remember how quickly his body cooled. I wonder how quickly the handle of the gun will cool from my hand. Will I still have a grip on it? I wonder how quickly I’ll cool… In some versions of it, I can see the red blood against the stark white snow… And other versions, I can feel the back of my head on the hard concrete. To most people that sounds terrible, but for me, that seems peaceful.
I know a lot of people say it’s the “easy way out” or “weak”. Maybe so. Maybe not. I just know that at times, everything seems to be too much. Too heavy. This is what I think about though. I’m not bothered by it. This isn’t a play by play. It’s a thought I think about and see in my head. I’ve often said I could drive to work tomorrow and be killed or live on for a few more years. Seems like everyone has cancer or diabetes these days too… You never know. Some people will say “Don’t think like that” or “How dare you”…. Who am I to judge? Who are YOU to judge? This is my blog, not yours. It’s not even for you – it’s my thoughts. I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t put down my own true thoughts.
When I was a kid, I used to drive through the cemeteries in Milton, Connersville and in Cambridge City Indiana. I found and still find a lot of peace there. I always read the headstones and think about the people there. A farmer. A husband. A dentist. A bus driver. A mayor. I’m sure people who at one time were or at least thought they were – important – either to themselves or someone. Maybe a lot of people – maybe a few – maybe no one. But just like that – they are gone and forgotten. Dates and a dash. You wonder if they are remembered or missed… Did they matter to someone… I wonder the same about me….
In the military you always have to have a will and a power of attorney completed. Mine always said that I wanted to be buried under a tree in the Milton Cemetery. I like the idea of being under a big shade tree. Like a maple or an oak. Here in the last couple of years, I’ve rethought about it and now I think I wouldn’t mind being cremated and having my ashes spread over the waters at the International Peace Garden here in North Dakota. Even if I’m not living here, they can always cart me back up there. Start on the Canadian side. I’ve always liked it better anyway.
Lonely. Alone. Lonesome. Three descriptive words all derived from the word “lone.” To be alone. To feel lonely. To be lonesome. In life, you travel alone on your own journey. Yes, you meet others who often travel with you on the trip, but they are on their own journey too. You’re just passengers in the same car. But in the end, at some point, death is waiting for us all. And you’ll be buried alone. It’s not a scary thing to me.