Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Other Side

To get the ball rolling, let's talk about something extremely morbid and depressing.


I have a terrifying, unwavering fear of dying.

Death is a pretty crappy fear to have. It's not like having a fear of heights, where you can simply avoid things like roller coasters, hot air balloons, and piggy back rides from Robert Wadlow.

There's no avoiding death. None of us get out of this world alive. Death is imminent. Steve tells me all the time that I shouldn't dwell on something that I can't change, but it's hard not to think about. It's harder now that I have a child I desperately want to see grow up.

I think what scares me the most is the unknown afterlife. Growing up as a Catholic, we were told that if we're "good", we go to Heaven after we die. I must admit, this is a pretty appealing place to go. Who wouldn't want to frolic on marshmallow clouds, eating calorie-less ice cream, listening to Journey's Greatest Hits? (Wait, this isn't everyone's vision of Heaven?) It is also implied that we'll be reunited with our loved ones again. This is obviously the most attractive part of Heaven. Everyone who's lost someone they care about wants nothing more than to see them again. Heaven promises we will. As long as we don't use bad language, have premarital sex, or forget to go to Church.

The idea of Reincarnation is also pretty interesting. The thought of coming back as you, but in another form fascinates me. I've always wanted to come back as a deer. Yes, a deer. Deer are very graceful creatures, and graceful, I am not. I'm kind of a klutz. It would be awesome to be a graceful deer that lives its life relaxing in nature, sipping from streams, and just lounging about under the warm sun (without that nagging worry about possibly getting skin cancer). And if I ever got bored and wanted some thrills, all I would have to do is dart across a busy highway and try to make it to the other side without getting hit. But hey, if I do get hit, I'll just come back as a grasshopper or something.

As great as these options are, there are some pretty unpleasant alternatives. You might go to Hell. No one knows what Hell is like, but it doesn't sound good. (For my version of Hell, just watch "The Human Centipede".) There's also purgatory, having your spirit trapped on Earth and being doomed to haunt a closet forever... and then there's nothing.

When you die, nothing happens. You simply cease to exist. Your light burns out forever. You go to sleep, without the fun dreaming part. You never see the people you love, ever again. Granted, you're dead, and these things don't really matter after the fact. But since I'm currently one with the living, I think about this stuff. I think about the people who have died, who aren't up in Heaven looking down on me like I was always told. What if this really is all we've got? These few precious years to love, live, and learn? This is a scary thought and when you think about it, you want to stop thinking about it. You want to believe that Heaven exists, or that you'll be reborn again one day.

I have no idea what's going to happen after I die. No one does. I want to believe that there is a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel and that no one is truly gone forever. But I just don't know. All I can concentrate on is now and enjoy my life while I have it. Still, I can't escape that nagging fear that death is on my heels. Everything could be taken away from me in a blink of an eye.

And then what?


Leslie said...

I think about the same stuff. There's something about motherhood, I think, that really lets you feel your mortality.

Jennifer Dawn said...

I completely agree!