I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while. Garry and I are in an age group where our friends, colleagues, and family who are our age all have some kind of physical problem. It may be minor. Just something requiring medication that’s easily controlled. It might be deadly, sooner or later. Or, we might be exceptionally healthy and still get hit by a truck or be so busy photographing the waves that we fall off the cliff.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

In the course of lockdown, we lost our two old Scotties in one month. Never assume that losing pets is less heartbreaking than losing a person, by the way. Sometimes, it’s worse. it turns out they were the appetizer and the main dishes were still to come. After that, we lost a handful — or more (it’s hard to remember) — of colleagues and friends. We already lost all the older members of our families, so the rest of them, all around our age, are (knock on wood) doing fine. Ironically, lockdown notwithstanding, we didn’t lose anyone to COVID. Mostly, it was cancer. Breast, lung, melanoma. In the not yet lethal department, there was Parkinson’s, glaucoma, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Lots of breathing problems — it was a very bad year for pollen — and of course, heart disease and blood pressure issues,

If there is any irony in this, it was how pretty much all the people who passed were younger than us — often quite a lot younger. Complain though we may, it could be worse — or at least, different since I’m not sure what exactly death means.

I live in a kind of amorphic, mystical languor about death. I would like to die and move to a beautiful world or a new life, but all I expect is emptiness. I should probably want to know what’s happening with everyone’s health, but I really don’t. All it does is depress me. I can’t make anyone better. I can’t even offer a decent platitude because platitudes get stuck in my teeth and I can’t spit them out.

None of this means I’ve given up on life but I’ve absolutely given up on worrying about death. I’m going to die. We are all going to die. Today, tomorrow, or down the road — something will take us out. An illness. An accident. A big surprise or a long, slow passage. One way or the other, we’ll all get there.

Ever since the lockdown, I’ve realized I can’t fix things. I doubt I ever could, but when I was young I was sure if I tried hard enough I could change the world. Not change it in a big way. I knew I wasn’t going to discover a cure for cancer or invent a time travel machine. But I thought maybe I could make a difference in small ways, Maybe I could convince a few people that we can make the world better by being better.

According to Terry Pratchett

Today, I look around, and I see people who really believe the world is flat or the earth is hollow and weird creatures live in the middle. Or better yet, we live in the middle and those twinkly things in the sky are an illusion caused by The Deep State. It must be a very, very, VERY deep state to make space appear to be space and not look like one of those tawdry painted backdrops you can see in old movies.

I don’t know how I wound up living in a country full of people who think the louder they yell or rant — or the more killing they do — that somehow, they are accomplishing something.

Maybe they are lost and all this weird crap they believe is supposed to make up for a reality that has faded away.

What I do know is if we don’t die young, we will get old. After old, there’s death.

Everything ends. Animals, trees, rocks, stars, and galaxies. I’m not going to worry about the end. Not only won’t I be around to see it, but it’s on the Big Agenda of Life On Earth. Maybe it’s a good thing.

Categories: Death and Dying, Earth, Health, humanity, Life, perspective, Photography

Tags: , , , , , ,

16 replies

  1. I’m sorry to read of your losses, both friends and pets. It’s tough. And yes, it does make us reflect on our own mortality. Despite being ‘of a certain age’ I still haven’t reached your point of acceptance but I think I’m inching towards it. One thing I do know, being old isn’t a barrel of laughs when the body starts complaining, but in my opinion it’s a lot better than the alternative and I plan to make the most of all the time I have!


  2. When death comes
    I really don’t know,
    What to do, when death comes,
    But one thing when it comes,
    If I’m ready,
    I think I’ll smile,
    It’s natural,
    There’s nothing to worry about.


  3. It’s too late for me to die young and stay pretty. Everyday is an adventure.




  5. Profound words Marilyn. I’ve given more and more thought to death in the past few years. I used to say I wished it would come sooner than later because I’m mortally tired of this reality. But I realize more and more too that since I don’t for sure know what is next, it scares me a little. The head doctors will cheer because that fear makes me that much less suicidal. I know what my faith tells me is next, I know what I believe is next in my heart of hearts and the two don’t jive. I know what I hope for. Maybe that’s a lesson too, to embrace as much as we can here of emotion and life and experiences and then the passing on won’t seem quite as stark.


    • We’ve been surrounded by people dying and so many were younger than us — not even retired and in the middle of their lives — I finally realized that worrying about dying is stupid. It will happen. When? Who knows? But I might as well try to enjoy today as long as we have a today. I have NO idea what, if anything, follows life. I don’t even have a solid theory about it. maybe we turn to stardust and become part of the heavens. That sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?


  6. Well said, Marilyn. May you continue to speak (and write) so well for a long, long time. Hugs to you and Garry.


  7. acceptance, and just doing the best we can to help change things for the better


  8. Death as as real as life. And some or later we all will face it. So it’s no use worrying about it.


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