Life and Death: The Yin-Yang of Existence (2023)

Everything we love, do or become is ultimately impermanent.

Life and Death: The Yin-Yang of Existence (1)

AbbieI agree with you that our avoidance of the subject of death gives it unhealthy power over our lives. I don't want to imply deathNOÖshould nothave power over life. Without death life would lose its meaning, they are the yin and yang of our existence, one nothing without the other.

After more than half a century, I've come to understand that the bittersweet quality that accompanies virtually all human endeavors is actually the most precious thing in life, because everything we do, become, or love is ultimately ephemeral. . Nothing lasts, neither the good times nor the bad.

I'm certainly not saying that death is easy or that I see it the same way I do when I lie down to take a nap. And contemplating your own death is very different from the death of a loved one, especially a child, parent, sibling, or spouse. Life can be terribly lonely after the death of someone we love most, and I've learned that grieving is necessary work. Both of my siblings have died in recent years: my older sister, Misti, died at the age of 46 from a ruptured brain aneurysm, and my younger sister, Kathy, who was closest to me for the first half of my life, died of a heart attack. at the age of 49.

As I reflect on her death now, looking back through the prism of distance, I can see that pain can teach me something. When Misti died in 2007, it made me pessimistic and I wondered what the point of all this daily effort was, since one day we all cease to exist and life goes on without us, who are just a dot on the screen. . I don't know if these feelings were partly due to the fact that I was nearing the end of my 20+ year marriage or not. Little did I know then that my marriage was ending. But I don't think I would have left if Misti hadn't died and if my wife's father, Jack, who was like a father to me, hadn't died a year later.

Misti and Jack's deaths made me feel reckless and self-destructive, at least that's what I thought at the time. I was probably being reckless, but I can see from this distance that he had to give me permission to end my marriage. I had a dream a few months before I left my wife, Nancy - "the worst dream I ever had before I knew I was going to leave her" - about being taken to prison and me about Travis, my youngest son to say goodbye. I got desperate (in the dream) and told Travis I had to go because of what he had done. It was unbearable. It's only now that I see that the dream prepared me for the worst day of my life, the worst moment of my life: trying to tell my wife and three children that I'm moving. I choked too hard to speak. The move was the right thing to do, but I will never recover from this moment. as you noticedAbbie, there are things worse than death and for me the divorce was worse than death because I still love my ex-wife. I often think of what my grandmother said to me when I explained the fear Nancy and I felt when Nancy's sister committed suicide in 2002: Some things are never over. Just learn to live with them.

When my sister Kathy died in the summer of 2015 it had a terrible impact on me, as did Misti's death, but it also gave me a sense of urgency for the things I still want to do with my life. I think because both my sisters died before they were 50, I realized what a gift it is that I'm still here, that I can go on and do whatever I want, whatever I dare . Losing one of them made me ruthless, but losing both made me brave. I told myself (for the hundredth time in my life, but with more sense than ever) the same thing I've used over the years to persuade myself to do what scared me, like I did when I was 50 Going to grad school or joining the boxing team in fifth grade, or taking a job I've never done before, or sometimes just facing the everyday fears of getting out of bed and pushing through the day. What I've always said to myself is this: We all make this up over time. Why should I be afraid of someone or try something new? Nobody knows more about life than me or how to live it right.

Since the death of my sisters, I've also had new feelings about forgiving myself for my mistakes and realizing that I like myself and am comfortable in my own skin. I haven't always felt this way, so maybe I'm enjoying this time in life more than any other after enduring the pain of divorce and getting some distance from the recent loss of loved ones, which I now understand. . be an integral part of life. It's a shame to discover these feelings so late, but I'll take what I can.

The death of my sister Kathy made me feel like a fool not to go after the things I want. Changing jobs again at 53, having to prove myself all over again, gave me the best job I've ever had. The location is incredibly beautiful, downtown at Burnett Plaza, the tallest building in Fort Worth, adjacent to Burnett Memorial Park, a beautiful clearing donated in memory of two of the late Samuel "Burk" Burnett's sons, the two, who died young. There is a granite inscription in the park, a quote from Burnett, dedicating the park to his two "lost" sons.

The photograph that accompanies this piece is a photograph I took that captures the edge of Burnett Park and the famous 50ft sculpture of the Man with Briefcase. Burnett Plaza, the elegant building where I work, can be seen in the background. I write corporate communications, my bosses love me, and I'm just managing myself for the first time in almost 20 years. I'm back as a full-time writer (as opposed to editor) and whenever they need communication, they call me and tell me how awesome i am when i deliver work. what would be better

Looking back now, I see that the last 14 years have been filled with the loss of loved ones: my wife Nancy, her sister and father, my grandmother and two sisters, my uncle whom I have not mentioned. Our two dogs. Nancy and I adopted a stray dog ​​who followed Nancy home from the library the first fall of our marriage in 1988. The poor collie mix we called Sally was soaked from the rain, shaking and covered in ticks. She lived with us in Pampa, Amarillo, Wichita Falls, Amarillo again, then Fort Worth before she died in 2003 at the age of 15. We got a puppy, Pixie, from the shelter in 2001 for the kids to soften the blow of being uprooted again. . and move to Fort Worth - that was our reason for being. Pixie was another handsome long-haired cowboy who also died last year at the age of 15.

Death is the great leveler on the playing field of life. Knowing that death awaits us all is probably the only thing that helps some of us learn humility and empathy. Even brats like Donald Trump, who have taken or got everything they ever wanted, have to face the looming void just like the rest of us. And I hope like youAbbieto decide when and how I will break free from this deadly shell, just as my grandmother, Roxana Jewel Bohanan, did.

On her 97th birthday I interviewed my grandmother extensively and wrote to hera story of his early lifeto occupy a home in a retreat in the Oklahoma Panhandle and farm along the Dust Bowl. In the story, I predicted that I would live to be 100 and beyond. As always, he was right when he cheerfully pointed out: "Who knows, maybe I'll be dead by then."

I last saw my grandmother on June 17, 2014, as she lay in a hospital bed on the seventh floor of Baptist St. Anthony Hospital in Amarillo. She asked me about grad school and how long I had to get a master's degree and I took her hand before saying goodbye. It was the same hospital where she had volunteered for 41 years. He started in 1968, on the day the hospital opened, and in 2009 he decided to quit his weekly gift shop shifts at the age of 93.

He died on June 19, 2014., aged 98 after refusing further medical treatment. He told me he saw no point in all the fuss and heroic medical procedures for a person his age. "It's time to leave it to the kids," he said. And he did.

I assume Grandma's cause of death was pneumonia but in reality her death was the result of a fall in her darkened bathroom 10 days ago while getting out of bed at night. He fractured his left femur near the hip joint and his left humerus near the shoulder. In the hospital, he contracted pneumonia caused by aspiration of food, and his body was unable to fight off the infection. The day before her death, Grandma told her respiratory therapist that she would no longer undergo forced oxygen therapy, which my father compared to sticking your head out of a car window at 80 miles an hour. It was the only treatment that could save her and she said no, enough.

I'm glad she owned his thoughts to the end, becauseellaHe made the decision that it was time to die. I hope to be able to make the same decision when the time comes.

Sonny Bohanan is a writer based in Fort Worth, Texas. read yourswrite a portfoliojyour blog, and keep following himblood. He was an editor atFort Worth Star-Telegramand theAmerican literary review.

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