Saturday, October 6, 2012

The D word

Our romance community lost someone very special last weekend. I won't add my thoughts about cover model Angelo, because others have already done that so well.

I'm going to talk about the dreaded D word. Death. Don't hit the close button! This will not be a depressing blog.

Death is the great equalizer. Every human on the planet has two things in common. They're born and they die. We're not born into equal circumstances. Some hit the genetic jackpot and others inherit challenges. Some are born rich and others are poor. Some are wanted and some are despised. But one escapes. You can't buy your way out of it, can't earn your way out of it with good deeds, can't 'exercize and eat right' your way out of it. It's going to happen.

For some reason our culture likes to pretend death doesn't exist. We don't talk about it. We don't know what to say when somebody loses a loved one. And when we allow that little window to open, we have vastly different ideas about what it means. 

As a former nurse, I--like most of the medical community--considered death "the enemy." Talk about a losing battle! For some, death is an end to suffering. Now, I see that as a blessing. If I hadn't gone through it with my parents, I might still feel that death is just wrong. Don't laugh. I wasn't alone in that philosophy.

When someone leaves us, we miss them. Knowing we can't call them on the phone or see them next week hurts. But that's about us--not the dear departed.

I don't want to cr*p on anyone's beliefs, but I'm fairly sure there's just one outcome. I'm not arrogant enough to say I know which way it's going to go, but if there are 72 virgins waiting for me on the other side, I'll shrug and say, "Well, I guess one group was right and I was wrong."

I do have my beliefs. Like many of us, I find comfort in hoping there's more. I like to think I'm open minded and can respect those who have a belief that differs from mine. I've read books by mediums, clergy, and folks who've seen the bright light and been told to turn around.

And yet, I write books about immortals. No, I don't believe they really exist. (Shhh...Don't tell my editor.) But it's fun to pretend they do. Perhaps the closest we humans can come to being immortal is to leave something of us behind. A child. A painting. A book.

The very first novel I wrote was titled Surviving Mortality. I began writing it a few months after my parents died. It was a way to cope with their deaths and my own. I tried to write about my family in non-fiction first, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't get past page two without disolving into a puddle. However, making it happen to someone else gave me the step back I needed. That's when I discovered that fiction can be a sneaky way to speak the truth.   



Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Beautifully said, Ash. :-)

Naima Simone said...

You're so right, Ash...about death and about the blog not being depressing. It's actually comforting. I started thinking of my uncle and grandmother, who I recently lost within a year of each other. I know people have different beliefs about death and what happens afterward, but I have to believe in there being more. Have to. Both my uncle and grandmother lived their lives believing in it, and the thought of them no longer suffering leaves me with the only peace I have with the big hole they've left behind. Lovely post.

Dalton Diaz said...

I was at my father's bedside when he died. There was so much relief that his suffering was over, but I still cried buckets. Over time, those last 4 months with him and his dementia became some of the time we value the most. He had a wicked sense of humor, and would have loved that.

VenusBookluvr said...

Fantastic post Ash!

Wynter Daniels said...

What a thoughtful post. I think it does help to write about things and immortalize certain people for us.

Victoria Adams said...

Fantastic post - and yes our culture likes to pretend death doesn't exist. Sometimes it needs to be talked about.

Ashlyn Chase said...

Thanks for commenting, ladies. It's nice to know you understand where I'm coming from.

Maggie Nash said...

You know this week I had a workshop with my first year student nurses about dying. The purpose was similar to your blog post. To talk about it in a safe environment, and to give us a starting point to think about our feelings about death. As a former cancer nurse, I always saw it as a privilege to join the patients and their families on the journey. It's tougher when it's a sudden, and meaningless death. However, as you say - you have to make sure you don't make it about yourself. It's their journey, and yes, we miss them, but I'd like to think the place they have gone to is a beautiful one.

Lovely post Ash :-)

Sherry said...

Having had the opportunity to live through some of the experiences that I have, I don't focus on the death when I loose someone.. It's such a small part of the whole experience. Instead, I celebrate knowing that I have had the honor of having them touch my life and make it better, if only for short time.

Ashlyn Chase said...

A very good way to deal with it indeed, Sherry.

Casey Crow said...

Such a wonderful post. This week was poignant for me, too, as it would have been my best friend from high school 38th birthday. My book Dance with a Millionaire is dedicated to him. May all our friends be remembered.