Several years ago my recently deceased brother Paul reported this conversation with his doctor.
Paul: Doctor, my friends keep passing away. This is really hard and I miss them. Isn’t there anything I can do?
Doctor: Die first.
In the past four years my beloved husband, my two brothers, and my dear, sweet Kai dog have all died. So far no friends themselves have passed away, but the spouses and family of friends have gone leaving them bereft, and me bereft for their loss. I would like it to stop. I know it won’t. Time keeps ticking. My generation, and the generation before it, are leaving the room.
This is the way it should be. Yes it’s hard, but it’s right. I want my son’s generation, and those before and after him, to have the space to live their lives without me holding on, frightened and crabby, demanding their attention.
In my ideal world I’d live fit as a fiddle in approximately the same physical condition I was in at 35, and then suddenly hit my expiration date. Done. Bang. Outta here. That won’t happen. No matter how much I exercise and how well I eat, things wear out, either fast or slow depending. Then I will die. Here’s the great thing about death. It’s not a test. We all pass.
So what can you do? Well, as the doctor said. You can die first, and skip the grieving. But then you miss everything else, and there’s a lot of everything else. Life is a gaudy parade, a perpetual Mardi Gras. True, some people go back to their hotels earlier than others, but that’s no excuse for us not to dance.
My advice is be kind. Be brave. Take risks. Tell those you care about that you love them. Seriously, don’t put that one off. Do something, anything, to make the world we leave a little better. And while you can, be in the parade.