Saturday, February 13, 2010

"Death and All His Friends"

When I was younger, I had an overwhelming sense of fear over the prospect of death.

Possibly a bit too morbid, I am aware, for a 9 or 10 year old mentality, but I can grasp at a handful of distinct memories where I would wake up from terror nightmares of imagining what death would be like. At that age, I had no way of having any real depth perception as to what death entailed other than the image of what I saw in movies or TV (probably some episode of McGyver to blame for my fugitive imagination, no doubt).

I can vaguely recall the recurrence of these sleepless nights always beginning with me lying in bed, trying to be utterly still with my mind wandering off slowly. Once I could hear only the bugs outside my bedroom window chirping and buzzing softly, I found myself wondering if this is what death would be like. Don't ask me why, because for the life of me, I have no idea why I would have ever imagined something like this - but I do remember feeling a lot of fear. A lot of angst. I guess I had learned early on through my surgeries and physical therapy as a kid that the preparation for the experience seemed to make the experience itself less upsetting, less frightening. I wanted to know what death was like so I'd be ready.

So I'd lie in self-absorbed solitude for what seemed like forever (which means 3 minutes - tops) until I would suddenly realize that I hadn't been breathing that whole time and would scare the bejeebus out of myself once I gasped for air.

Long story short, none of my meager exploits into the minute life cycle of pre-mortem ever led to any acquiescence about death (with no surprise).

I recently realized that now, even as I delve deeper into my studies to what will eventually (and hopefully) become a career in medicine, I still have no idea what I think death is really like and whether to fear it or accept it for myself. But what I do know is that I fear death for everyone else on this planet. I fear the death of my parents (from either family), I fear the death of my sisters, my brothers, my neighbors, that guy that price checked my Mac & Cheese at the grocery store, the woman who held open the door for me today at REI...

because as I enter these trepid waters of medicine, I take on that responsibility. I am excited, anxious and cautious with a little bit of scared-shitless thrown in there. I know I can do it - deep within the recesses of my brain are all the necessary neurons to succeed. But I would be lying to all of you if I didn't admit that every now and again a little doubt is thrown my way. Maybe it's a bad grade here, a four-hour study session that ends with me killing more brain cells than I know those are the times I need to step back, take a deep breath, and realize that I can do whatever I put my mind to as long as my heart and perseverance is in on the same goal.

I promise to myself to keep writing in this thing - no matter how ominous it might seem. I believe that writing will always be my trusted compass. For whenever I fall off the broken path, once I sit down to write, I allow myself to bare my soul without ever really realizing it.

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