I'm not scared of dying and I don't really care
If it's peace you find in dying, well, then, let the time be near
--"And When I Die", Blood, Sweat and Tears
"Hey, Ken! How are you?"
That's been my standard response to that question whenever I'm not in the tip-toppiest of moods. Most people ignore that, the same way they ignore any answer to that question, leaving me wondering why they even bother to ask the question. A few will chuckle and say "well, that's a good start", or something along that line, and depending on how engaged they actually seem, I might come back with "are you sure?" in a not-quite jocular tone.
Maybe death is better.
I have no plans to die any time soon. Far too much to experience yet. But then, the only people who plan their deaths carry them out themselves, and that's not in my cards.
I have dreamt often of dying. My death dreams come in fits and spurts, and I've had them since I was a child. The method of death always changes, although I'll tend to have recurring dreams for a month or two where it's the same shotgun or knife or spectacular diving mishap (that one recurred for years). More than once I've awoken convinced I was dead. Sometimes I feel pain, sometimes I don't. I've dreamed my own funeral many times: sometimes it's well attended, sometimes there's nobody there, and more than once everybody stood around pissing into my coffin.
I don't think those dreams mean anything fatal. I do think on occasion they're warning me to change course in my life.
But I could die before I finish this. Massive heart attack, pulmonary embolism, brain aneurysm, aortic dissection, freak roof collapse...lots of different killers out there lurking in the bushes. As if to drive this point home, just as I finished writing this, a dear friend messaged me to let me know her husband's dad had passed away. In the midst of life...
Those lyrics are a lie, by the way, at least for me. I'm scared of dying.
I'm not in the slightest scared of death. To me, death is a silly thing to be frightened of, because it's something all of us experience. It'd be like being scared of defecation. I have my own beliefs as to what awaits me on the 'other side', and they're nothing remotely intimidating. I concede I could be wrong about that, but I flatly refuse to believe in hell no matter how many people threaten me with it, so even if I'm wrong, I figure the worst possible thing that could happen is...nothing at all.
But I'm scared of dying, specifically the pain that typically goes with it. I'd rather go suddenly: one big jolt and bye-bye. I've seen sudden death and I've seen long, lingering death and while the former may be a shock to the people I leave behind...folks, I gotta go sometime. I'd rather do it with some semblance of dignity, if I get a choice in the matter.
POINT ONE: IF I'M SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD, KILL ME, ALREADY.
I don't want extraordinary measures taken to preserve some technical definition of "life". If I am in excruciating pain, with no prognosis but further pain and a curtain at the end of it....pull that curtain over here, if I can't do it myself. It's legal here now, although they're still hammering out the fine points, but not to put too fine a point on it, if it's made illegal again when I need it...get away with it. I not only forgive you, I emphatically state there's nothing to forgive, and I'm sorry to any deists reading this, but my opinion on this matter is the only one that signifies, just as your opinion on the manner of your death is the only one that signifies for you. Get away with it.
Likewise, if I am in a vegetative state, unable to communicate and respond to loved ones, I want out. If I am unable to give and receive love, than life has no meaning to me.
POINT TWO: MAKE USE OF ME.
Anything that can be used to help somebody, harvest it. (Just...please make damned sure I'm actually gone before you do it.) My organ donor card has been signed, but the wider this -- all of this -- is known, the happier I'll be.
To me, this needs to be opt-out rather than opt-in. There are too many people needing too many things. I often find myself wishing I could somehow give my heart, say, and somehow remain alive.
POINT THREE: WHATEVER CAN'T BE USED, DISCARD IT
I don't care. I'm dead. Burn it, preferably. Do whatever you will with the ashes: I have no preference in the matter, so whatever you find meaningful, do that.
On no account do I wish to be buried. I believe that's a huge waste of space and time.
POINT FOUR: REMEMBER ME
There are some things I'd like done, if someone's in a position to do them. I'd like some sort of memorial service...but only if it is non-religious. I'd like music to be a part of it...again, nothing religious...and I have one specific song request: this recording of this song.
Finally, I would like a little stack of cards with my photo on one side and this on the other:
I have lived and I have loved;
I have waked and I have slept;
I have sung and I have danced;
I have smiled and I have wept;
I have won and wasted treasure;
I have had my fill of pleasure;
and all these things were weariness,
and some of them were dreariness, --
and all these things, but two things,
were emptiness and pain:
And Love--it was the best of them,
And Sleep--worth all the rest of them...