Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Firmly in the Grip

Trey Smith

The seminal event in my life was watching my beloved maternal grandmother die before my eyes. One minute she was her usual self and, in no time at all, she wasn't "with" us any longer. I was 27 years old and my whole understanding of life changed dramatically on that pivotal day.

It is not that someone close to me had not died before that moment. My paternal grandfather died when I was 19. A close friend of our family had passed away before I even made it to my teenage years. So, it wasn't that I didn't understand the concept of loss -- it is more than I had never personally witnessed the extinguishing of a human life in my presence.

From that day forward, death has had a grip on me. Not a day goes by when I don't think about it. Often, the thoughts are about my own death, but just as frequently, I think about the deaths of those close to me. I know I don't embrace life half as much as I could because the cold hand of death is always on my shoulder. It is a shadow that I can't seem to shake.

A large part of the problem has to do with my autism. I hate surprises! I loathe deviations to my routine. Death is the ultimate deviation, so I must be on constant guard. The only way I can hope to cope with death is to be aware of it constantly. I can't allow it to sneak up on me to snatch my life or someone else's without warning. So, I am hypersensitive to ANY suggestive signs of it.

It is a tortuous way to live. I'm sure it is one of the chief reasons I don't go to bed until I am thoroughly exhausted. When I climb into bed and I am not thoroughly exhausted, my mind races and my friend, death, always lurks close by. I often wish it would quit skulking around the edges and simply put me out of my misery.

The only way it will release it's grip on me is to set me free into the mysterious void.


I don't want readers to misunderstand what I am sharing here. I am not contemplating suicide or anything of that nuture.  For the most part, I want to live as long and as well as I am able.  That said, I would be lying if I told you that it is not uncommon for me to go to bed with the hope simply of not waking up...just drifting off into oblivion.

In truth, it really isn't death that has a grip on me -- it is the act of dying.   If I could arrive at the former without having to deal with the latter, I think I would be a very happy camper.

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