When faced with a terminal illness, the mind begins to conjure up things that have yet to be accomplished in lieu of what has already been done. A freshly prepared arm’s length bucket list of everything the person probably still won’t get to gives them the false sense of a bright future they refuse to admit will never come. It helps lessen thoughts of the inevitable that quietly haunt their every waking hour. A trip down historic Route 66. Hiking the Appalachian Trail. Four-wheeling through the deserts of Arizona. Watching a stupid groundhog look for its shadow. Taking a selfie in front of the world’s largest ball of twine. Drinking from a cool mountain stream in Colorado or enjoying a lobster feast on the coast of Maine.
Things the person had only the tiniest inkling of doing suddenly become a priority as the sand slowly drains from their hourglass. Realizing their desire list will more than likely never receive any check marks or at least very few, does not stop their imagination from wondering what if? What if they could strap themselves in the driver’s seat of an RV and never look back? Drive until they can drive no more.
Let’s be realistic, financial constraints typically don’t allow a person’s desires to become reality, dying or not. The most they can hope for is peace and tranquility during their remaining time while they are left to wonder what comes next. An afterlife? Heaven? A hole in the ground? Will they be reunited with loved ones who have gone before or was all that a bunch of nonsense? The closer the person gets to learning first-hand, the more their curiosity increases. The more they begin to think perhaps they will see them.
Since being diagnosed with a disease that is slowly claiming victory, I have realized that nothing in life changes regardless of the tunnels dimming light. Life’s little (and big) problems, do not diminish in equal comparison to the cells that are being killed off daily. A person’s body and mind weaken while the problems of life remain strong and relentless. Life bears little compassion, even for the terminal. People are far more concerned with their life continuing to worry about someone else’s ending.
If I were still deemed healthy, I wonder how my attitude would be towards someone who is not? Knowing what I now know about the psychological impact of “counting the days” until one personally becomes dust to dust, I would forgive them their trespasses whether right or wrong or who’s to blame. While we seldom get the opportunity to live in peace, we should at least be allowed to die that way.