Of late, I have become rather obsessed with the idea of my own mortality. And I’m rather enjoying myself in the process.
A pea sized, previously un-noticed lymph node in my neck fast forwards me (despite the firm reassurance of my GP) to the lymphoma and failed bone marrow transplant that will take me away prematurely. Some short lived palpitations after drinking too much coffee remind me that the differential diagnosis includes a fatal cardiomyopathy.
Before I embark on a journey my mind drifts inevitably to the fatal accident that will take me, the tears of my wife and children as they attempt to identify my charred and mangled remains, and even what selection of music might be played at my funeral. My teenage children look at me strangely as I hug them and tell them how much I love them before I leave. “You’re being weird Dad”.
I have always been one for a bit of drama, but thoughts about my own death are relatively new.
In my youth, the idea of dying never really occurred to me. Although death was an inevitability it was always somehow beyond the horizon. Life seemed an endless list of possibilities and the relentless momentum of their pursuit kept me looking forwards. Longing to grow up, get a job, fall in love, travel, to fulfil my (ever changing) dreams and aspirations. In the same way, I guess, that many older people spend their times looking back – longing to be young vigorous and healthy again, in the throws of first love, and of regrets about choices made.
Now that the inevitable, un-ignorable signs of ageing are upon me, I can see things more clearly.
I’m in the middle. Without the pushing forward of youth or the pulling back of old age I’m at a point that writer (and undertaker) Thomas Lynch describes as, ‘balanced between infancy and decrepitude’. Its a point which allows you a good view of went before, what lies ahead and which allows a balance and perspective that shows you the importance and wonder of how things are now.