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 | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


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