In My Ohio

On the Impending Goodbyes

Darren C. Demaree
You don’t have to die well.
My grandfathers are dead. My biggest crush from college died six months after I kissed her for the first time. All of us, no matter our age, have been bullied by the undeniable fact that this is all quite temporary.
I bring all of this up because my grandmothers are getting older and their health has been variable for a while now. My friends are getting older, and we are all pushing ourselves dramatically to be successful. My parents are reaching that age where if something happened it would be shocking, but they’re sixty-years old now, which means that nothing would be shocking. So, should we expect the awful? No. Should we do our best to stay healthy and happy as long as possible? Of course.
My main concern is how we react to aging and the failing of one’s health. There seem to be a lot of offers of medical tune-ups once you reach a certain age. There is an easy surgery to fix your eyes a little bit. A small heart procedure? Pill after pill, and there are side effects with each one. The balancing act of prolonging life while living in the present is an epic formula, and I’m not certain what the right way to go about that is. I do know this though, as long as you’ve lived well (loved, been loved, tried to do good, reached for something more than your own desires), then you don’t owe anyone a good death. If you’re afraid of a surgery or don’t like how your physical being is being treated by the passing of time, then it’s a decision not an imperative that you accept those treatments.
I think what doctors can do is actual magic at this point. Well, it’s science to nth degree of science. They understand almost everything about the mechanics of the body now, and they are using that to give us an extremely long life. It’s incredible what they can do with pharmacology and surgery. We care for ourselves now from an early age. I take a multi-vitamin and fish oil pills every day because it will prolong my life. I work out every day, and the parts of that which aren’t tucked in vanity are in pursuit of better health for longer. I want fifty more years of this life, at least, but what if I get sick before that? What if my body is actually rigged to reject my energy far before that?
It’s incredibly emotional when someone we love starts to have consistently bad health. Older people make jokes about it, because if they don’t then where would they find the elbowroom to swing their bodies with any happiness? I think if someone makes it eighty or ninety years in this world, and their thoughts and opinions are completely colored by the pain they feel, then they can refuse to take extra chances. Please know that I’m not talking about suicide, though I do understand that to be a personal right, I’m talking about just standing pat with what you have left.
I love both of my grandmothers. I love my wife’s grandmothers. All four of them are the best of what you could expect from a matriarch of a family. None of them are doing well, but they all have some good time left. I want to expect them to live longer, but they don’t owe me that. They have given and given beautifully, always, and for me at least they don’t have to take this last bit of journey well. I’m going to be pissed when I die. I’m going to be sad and hysterical about it. I’m going to ask for unreasonable things or I might ask for nothing at all. I’m going to earn that passing. You don’t have to die well if you’ve lived well enough.