“I don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about,” said my doctor the other day, when I asked about something during a routine visit. “You’re perfectly healthy.”
“I feel like I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop,” I said. It’s true. Ever since I turned 60, death has stared me in the eye. I try not to be too paranoid with her, but it’s come up before.
“We’ve got to change that,” she said.
It’s complicated, the relationship I have with mortality. When people our age, hell, our friends, start passing on I think it’s natural to think even more about mortality.
As a young person, I, we, really, thought more about how we were going to live than how we were going to die. But now, I think more about dying.
How I’ll die.
How I want to die. But also how I don’t want to die, not yet.
What would make a good death? I think about those things.
When my doctor handed us Advance Directives and asked us about our end-of-life care wishes a few years ago at our physicals, it took me by surprise. It shouldn’t have, really, because everyone should have one, at any age. Dying is not just for the old.
Would I want to be resuscitated? Under what circumstances?
How much of a deficit, if any, am I–are you– willing to live with? My mother and her bright spirit lived just about the entire final year of her life bedridden in a hospital, where she got the sepsis that killed her. It was a terrible death and an awful last year.
Even if she’d gotten out, dialysis was going to be necessary. I just couldn’t picture her in a nursing home.
But can I envision myself in one?
It’s not that I’m obsessed with dying–the business of life keeps us occupied most of every year. We’re determined to live a full life and make our dreams come true. But the backdrop to that is the growing number of birthdays that we’re grateful to have. But realistic about.
Decisions about what we want at the end of our lives will be made for us if we don’t have a living will. I have the advance directive, but I haven’t had it witnessed yet. I need to do that soon.
What about you? Do you have one?