Sunday, January 27, 2013

Surrounded by Death

I heard about the deaths of elderly people as a result of the flu in the news, but this past week it hit closer to home.  One of my work colleagues lost his 81-year-old father.  He was hospitalized for the flu but the hospital released him with a 102 degree fever because they didn't have enough rooms to accommodate the ill. The next day he was found dead in his bed.

My former mother-in-law, who was 87 years old, got phemonia that resulted from complications of the flu and she died last Thursday. Then another friend's mother got the flu,  fell unconscious and passed away in hospice. That makes three deaths due to this flu virus in one week.

It shook me up enough to get a flu shot yesterday. I figure if I managed to survive breast cancer, I'll be damned if the flu is going to do me in.  I remember many years ago when a cold front hit, my grandfather had a massive heart attack that killed him. Winter does that to old people. I have seen it time and again.

I suppose I could just blame the weather, but it also has to do with getting older. My friends ex-husband, who has been battling colon cancer for years, decided to throw the towel in by stopping dialysis and checking into a hospice. It almost seems like he's committing suicide.  For many years my friend and her ex-husband were the best friends of me and my ex-husband. We were just like Lucy, Ricky, Ethel and Fred. But now the possibility of us ever getting together just to reminisce will never happen.

It's sort of like when everyone wanted The Beatles to reunite. Once John Lennon died, all our hopes were dashed. That's what happens when the people you know start to die. You can't help but reminisce. I think about Stephen, the one in hospice now, in his better days. I think of all the fun the four of us had. The New Year's Eves toasting champagne classes in Atlantic City. All of us gambling the night away. But now Stephen is just laying in a bed, waiting to die. So sad.

If having cancer did nothing else to me, it made me honor my body more.  Now I pop vitamins and get plenty of sleep. I try to work out. I try to eat healthy. If death is going to knock on my door, I don't want it to stand on my doorstep because I abused my body.  I don't want to be like my father, who literally died with a cigarette hanging from his mouth.

I don't want an empty bottle of whisky laying next to my lifeless body. I don't want drugs strewn across my beside table as witness to my corpse.  Like anyone, I would prefer to die peacefully. If that doesn't happen,  hopefully I will die quickly.

It would be nice if we all had a choice. But unless you take your own life, there aren't options. So I guess the best I can do for now it take care of my health.

Beyond that, death is a certain.

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