As I get older I realize I don’t have many years left. It is hard to believe that someday you will cease to exist. How can that be, when you’ve existed all these years? Will it be like you are sleeping? Or will it be like a dream that becomes your new reality. I have been asking myself these questions for a long time, and the answers have eluded me (thank goodness for that!). But I’ve also tried to leave something of worth behind me. Over the years, I enjoyed many crafts and part of the reason is that I am attempting to give my children and the world something to remember me by. I painted pictures, quilted, painted ceramics, and conducted genealogy research. Each form of expression gave me some peace―some feeling of leaving something besides my wonderful children behind me on this Earth.
I do not intend for this column to be depressing. But I see no reason not to cope with the reality that someday we will no longer exist—a concept most people who are 86 grapple with. Will you be forgotten as another generation arrives or have you left something behind that will say “I was here”? I feel this way about my writing as well. I am proud to have two books and several stories published; I like thinking that someone might read these works fifty years from now and get pleasure from or entertainment from the words. My writing gives me satisfaction that I have put part of me into the future—I created characters, plots and stories that will allow someone to get lost in my creations for a time.
Although I believe in God and in Heaven, it is very difficult to grasp what it will be like. How will we recognize loved ones who have gone before us? How is there space up there for all of us? Some might say these are useless questions: We will find the answers when it’s our time to go. Still, the thought of no longer existing as a person in this reality is a hard one to grasp.
My daughter Genilee may have a fit with my writing a column that seems so glum. I remember well when my own mother talked about death, and I told her the same thing my children would say to me: “Don’t talk about it. I don’t want to hear it.”
I understand where they are coming from, and yet―here I am talking about it on the Internet. I used to hate the subject as well. But as I approach my 90th year, I can’t help but be curious. And I’d like to hear from my fellow writers, readers and friends. How do you feel about the subject―deathDo any of you have trouble coming to grips with the fact someday you will no longer exist on Earth?
Regardless of whether I hear from anyone, I promise to write my next column on a more cheerful topic. And to my friends: don’t worry. I am actually not depressed and I apologize if I’ve made you think about something you don’t want to face right now. Please know that I am quite content with my life. I hope you are, too.
F. Sharon Swope