When asking friends what their preferred way out of this life would be, the answer is almost always "dying in my sleep." While there are uncountable ways to die, dying in one's sleep seems to be the winning death-lotto combo. Painless, peacefully, unknowingly.
My beautiful, late sister Faye took leave of our family 17 years ago. Last week, I celebrated what would have been her 41st birthday. In the emptiness of our old home, I did so quietly while I worked on finishing up repairs and repainting. Tragically, and in a flash of a freak accident moment, she vanished from my life. She is survived by two wonderful sons, aged 3 and 1, at her departure.
Events like this, well, they are once in a lifetime. We enter once; we exit once. There are no repeats, no second-chancees. Ambulance sirens are heard daily. We listen to stories bout it happening to others, but when our own turns come to experience grief, ay-yay-yay, it's time to buckle up. You never know where you'll land up when it's Grief's time to drive.
Let's start talking about it more. Let's acknowledge that the exit door, for one, exists and secondly that we will all go through it. Many, without even the time for a quick wave goodbye. For so long after my dear sister's death, I fought the hard reality that life went on without her, that everything would be ok.
When I was in my early teens, I was bodyboarding in the ocean. I was caught in the crash of a wave that pushed me all the way to the ocean floor. My face was filled with sand on impact. Having lost my board, disoriented, and in a panic, I was caught in the undertow. I foolishly fought the current with all my might. All my energy was exhausted. After being tossed down by wave after wave about 4 more times, I distinctly remember thinking, "This is it."
Surprise!!! I didn't die!!! The moment I completely surrendered to death, it was clarity that flooded in, and I was able to catch a wave to safety.
From that moment on, on the occasions when the topic has come up, my preferred way out is drowning. It's an easy choice. Having experienced the fight and the peace that came immediately after my inevitable surrender, the unknown factor is now gone from me. I've experienced 90% of what it feels like to drown; it no longer scares me.
So now that you know that about me... let's move on.
My point is that fears, in my life, are usually the result of inexperience and ignorance.
I've gone through waves of anxiety, and I'm personally close with many who admit to the same. "Hello, my name is Anxiety; I'm kind of a big deal."
Anxiety traps us into trading the present for the incessant guesswork of the results of future unknowns.
Good news, everybody! Every single future moment IS unknown; let's deal with that! When I try to control the future, it turns out, at best, as good as the moment I focused on trying to control it. It's the times when I surrender that I find myself riding waves that take me to places I had given up on.
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Owen Dargatz is a father of 5 and husband of 1. He has recently discovered how much he loves to share his brain's thoughts with the world. Having grown up with three sisters in Peru, he has a unique perspective on family life, culture, and the importance of sharing with those with less.