When Death Comes
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
by Mary Oliver
Oh my… death will come “like a hungry bear in autumn!” Imagine that! Why is it that many of us try to keep this reality at bay or even deny it? Last week my “Conscious Aging” group gathered to talk about our views and feelings about death and dying. A rich conversation ensued that led us to a place of deep appreciation for this life we are living moment to moment, day to day for not one of us wanted to end up “simply having visited this world.”
Weaving her magic, Mary Oliver declares that while here let’s “be like a bride married to amazement” and “take the world in our arms as a bridegroom,” treasuring each life, feeling our connection with all that is…”a brotherhood and a sisterhood” yet each “body a lion of courage and precious to the earth.”
In other words, “live like you are dying” as Tim McGraw, country music star, implores us in this hit song:
Live Like You Are Dying
He said I was in my early forties
With a lot of life before me
When a moment came that stopped me on a dime
I spent most of the next days, looking at the x-rays
Talking bout the options and talking bout sweet time.
I asked him when it sank in
That this might really be the real end
How’s it hit ‘cha when you get that kind of news?
Man, what’d ya do?
And he said
I went skydiving
I went rocky mountain climbing
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denyin’
And he said, Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin’
He said, I was finally the husband
That most the time I wasn’t
And I became a friend, a friend would like to have
And all of a sudden goin’ fishin’
Wasn’t such an imposition
And I went three times that year I lost my dad
Well I, I finally read the good book
And I took a good long hard look
At what I’d do if I could do it all again.