Wading Barefoot

Rediscovering my barefoot-self

What You Think Of – Thinks Of You

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me.
The Carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality
~Emily Dickinson

I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately. I’ve tried to ignore it because it feels morbid, but it comes back over and over. As I took my shower tonight, I stood thinking about how sudden a traumatic death can happen. Having seen 20+ years of life from the inside of trauma units, emergency departments and intensive/cardiac care units, death is not some obscure concept for me. As a nurse death was daily and came in any number of forms. I’ve always wondered about that finality; does that which appears to be the end of life, in reality end at all? Does our awareness continue after our bodies cease to function? It certainly doesn’t appear so from the perspective of the living. And therein lies the age old mystery and the nature of my morbid fascination

Standing there in the shower I needed some sort of point of reference to consider what ‘traumatic death’ would be like. As if on cue one of the big air freight planes took off from PDX. I can distinguish UPS and FedEX from other planes because of the difference in the sound of their engines. Planes used solely for freight typically take off at a steeper altitude than passenger planes, probably because there aren’t those annoying people to worry about scaring the crap out of. Their engines whine and they have a particular sound that I can only describe as, ‘desperate’. It always sounds as if there is some life and death drama being played out in the sky above. Will it make it? If it crashes… what if? It was that very question of ‘what if’, that I contemplated. How fast would I die? Would there even be time for my brain to recognize that something had happened, or would it be instantaneous oblivion and nothing more?

I happen to be a very visually imaginative person and so as the hot water of my shower began to run out, I realized that I was feeling almost anxious. It was as if, that which I thought of could also think of me! I ended the shower quite abruptly, dislodging the vision that had come over me. I’m not obsessed by death, but I am fascinated by it. Aren’t we all a bit curious about what happens to our awareness and our conciseness after death? So, while I am trying to push these thoughts out of my mind, it just seemed coincidental that random conversations about dying are also on the lips of those around me. Yesterday I spoke with three neighbors who, unprompted, each had something to say about dying; either their own death or that of someone they knew. Maybe I’m not so sure I believe in coincidence, but then again…

© Kathleen Ryan-McCullough

June 8, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , ,


  1. Yesterday would have been Judy’s 56th birthday, and Chad would be 38 in September and Jason would have turned 35 last May 31st. I often wonder what their transition was like to the other side. I would like to think there is an instant understanding that all will be ok., but from things I’ve read it takes traumatic deaths a transition period. I think in Judy and the boys case all is fine by now. But it worries me to think that there are some who take years to find their way. But the confusion the spirit endures even for a short time is painful for me to think of. I can only hope that they see their spirit guides waiting for them very quickly and understand where they are. I think people who die of natural causes can knowingly see that. And that’s a good reason to become old.

    Comment by Skullz | June 11, 2011 | Reply

    • Skullz,

      I suspect that the most difficult part of death is by far reserved for the living. For those who stay behind it is a tragedy and a burden of the heart. If we had the chance to start life again and apart from our parents make no friends, have no lovers, leave no children or mark any sign of our humanity, would we then be safe from the pain of loss to death? We both know that love and loss go hand in hand. “We are but a moment’s sunlight fading in the grass”. What good would any of life be without love. I prefer to believe that the transition is not a frightening experience and in all the years of staring down death I have noticed that for many people a look of calm, maybe even happiness comes over their face regardless of how they’ve died. I think you’re right about growing old, it certainly gives us the chance to see it coming. Whatever it is that happens to us at the end we should make the most of the time we have. To live as if it were our last day, to love as if we could never feel pain and to remember life’s greatest blessings: each other.

      I love you Skullz, you are one of my dearest blessings. Peace…

      Comment by wadingbarefoot | June 12, 2011 | Reply

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