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Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Gaping Maw of Death

My blog posts do not just to burst forth in a moment of thought or creativity. I start thinking about them, the topic, the content, the accompanying artwork, days or even weeks before I put pen to paper (so to speak).

A few days ago, I had just gone onto my blog to check for spelling, grammar, or other errors. As I re-read the post (which was about actual deaths) I started to think about my usual topics - death and cancer and having the knowledge that you’re going to die in relatively short order. 

Now everyone knows that they’re going to die eventually, but knowing that instead of those forty to fifty years you thought you had left to play with and in, you only have a few years, tops. And you don’t feel much like playing. So you are left, and I thought this was clever, staring into the “gaping maw of death.”

Now, I’ve been running around the Internet long enough to know that truly original ideas are very, VERY rare. As much as we all like to think that we are unique and special, people come up with the same thoughts and ideas all of the time. And sure enough, if you google, “gaping maw of death” and you will get 6300 results, which to me means that it is fairly common.

Many people with cancer and other progressive diseases are stood upright in front of death and made to truly stare into that gaping maw and consider the implications. What does it mean to be dead? Is it total annihilation of the self where we only ‘live on’ in the memories of others and the odd photo (or blog ;) left behind, or is there an actual piece of us, some energy (a soul) that leaves and goes elsewhere (heaven, hell, the eternal cosmos, absorbed into some great energy of the universe). Who has it right? Catholics? Protestants? Pentecostals? Jews? Muslims? Atheists? Mormons? Resuscitologists (see book by Sam Parnia), Scientologists (please no)?

That’s the hardest and most frightening part of death. We just don’t know and can’t know until we leap into that open, dark, slimy maw. And so we’re left with a choice. Which idea of death do we want to hang on to? Which one is the easiest for us to live with? I was raised a Christian and so that is the idea that is the most comfortable fit, although not the usual heaven as angels and harps and everyone dressed in white, yada, yada, yada. The idea of the afterlife as going home is very appealing to me.

We’ve all been away from home for periods of time long enough to feel a sort of relief upon returning to our own abode.

Letting go. Finally. Peace.

This is what I choose. This is what I hope for.

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. ~ Job 13:15

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