Enter your email address to receive weekly essays:

Check your inbox for a verification request. Thank you!

this thing called death; this thing called love

by Judy 
December 3, 2012 

I have always been touched by the ending of life. For some reason the experience and fact of birth has never pulled me in a big way. I have no idea why but it hasn’t.  Instead since I was little, I’ve been very aware of death, thought about it - my own and others - and also as I got older, very aware of the poignancy of a life lived that is coming to its end. This acute awareness of death perhaps has something to do with the fact of being a postwar baby, Jewish and very conscious from a young age of the holocaust. That combined with many sick and dying relatives, going to a lot of funerals and wondering about what death is; what is it to no longer exist. I would try to imagine not existing, but it was almost impossible

 I had a close relationship with my grandmother who was very caring and warm and for as long as I remember, she was also forever old. I think that early imprint upon my life left me with a tender feeling for old people that continued as I grew up. And of course it didn’t mean that all old people were wonderful or anything like that. That would be unrealistic, but I was aware of how often they were ignored or treated as children. I instinctively felt bad. A life long-lived, I felt, needed to be given weight, respect and interest. It’s really honoring the fact of life and how precious it is.

So how does this all relate to my mom and the tables turning? My mother now is old; older than when her mother, my grandmother died, and I see her aging features, the lines deepening around her face; the eyes difficult to open at times, the energy fading, frail and yet, more than any other “old” person, I see through the aging process  She has changed so much and at the same time there is that spark of life and warmth that carries on and when I look at her at times I see a young woman, I see my brother, I see faces from her family and I see beauty that she isn’t even in touch with herself. She’s 96 years old and when I think of it, it’s really somewhat miraculous that she is still alive and such a presence in my life now.  

When I was younger my mom was always showering me with affection but now I’m showering her with affection. The tides have turned. What is that all about? I don’t  know. It’s like having a love affair with one’s mother. And it’s not on a verbal level. It goes deep and maybe it’s really a love affair with oneself, with the self, with life itself. This love has so many faces. It’s not really a feeling because for example in the situation I’m in now I don’t always feel love towards my mom. Sometimes it’s painful and sometimes there is just a blank and yet I feel compelled to look after her and even when I don’t feel compelled to I still look after her. It’s a care that transcends feeling at any particular moment. And it runs deep, like the physical presence of the child for its mom; something very primitive and universal about it, related to all animals but especially the warm-blooded mammals.

All human beings will age and have their dear ones age. It’s universal. And all human beings will die; some deaths will be easy and some won’t. And we are all changing and being affected by each other’s changes. I sense something very significant in this and now as I think about it, it’s like anything that we go through and experience in life has the potential for transformation if we allow it to truly touch and change us and if we bring a higher perspective to it.

(written August 3, 2012)

Click here to engage on our Facebook page.

Feel free to share your thoughts


comments powered by Disqus