Day six was a doozy. DEATH.
I don’t fear many things (well, actually spiders terrify me), but I have had an innate fear of death since I was a young child. I’ve had many brushes with death over time, and I can admit, I’m not so much afraid of how it will happen, It’s more an idea of not being here anymore. Not existing.
From the age of seven, my Godmother (who raised me while my parent’s worked) took me on a daily excursion to the Ostfriedhof, a huge cemetery. We alternated between the children’s section (graves in Germany at that time had elevated mounds of dirt which messed with my head when I saw how small so many of the graves were), and the viewing hall. Caskets were propped on stands in individual cubicles with large windows for viewing the dead. I can remember standing before the window of a young girl that had been run over by a truck (I used to see her riding her bike all the time) and waiting for her to open her eyes. Death made no sense when the dead looked so alive.
I could write an entire book of my brushes with death, but that is not the purpose of this post. I grew up fearing the one inevitability we all face – our eventual end. I’ve lost some friends this past year, and still work very hard to accept they are gone. For the most part they were younger than me, and healthy until a twist of fate changed that.
For some strange reason, I keep reverting back to the post about FEAR and how it has driven my life. Ironically, my fear of death – thanatphobia – is the one thing that kept me fighting to stay alive. I used to believe I was weakened by my fear because in moments of despair when I wanted to call it quits, what ended up saving me was my fear of not being here anymore. I called myself a coward for wanting to walk way from life, really meaning it, and not being able to follow through because I was scared. In reality, it has nothing to do with bravery or cowardice, it has everything to do with understanding.
Once I released fear, I was able to come to terms with my phobia and understand that it has not kept me alive all of these years, it has kept me from living, form thriving, and from accomplishing my goals and dreams. Ah such sweet liberation – to really be living.