"I'm going to die!" I stifled a moan and wrapped my arms tightly around myself. Someday my body - which I'd been taking completely for granted - was going to give out, break down, shrivel up, and when it did I'd be dead.
I'd be gone forever.
After this horrifying realization, sleep was impossible. Later that morning, gripping a cup of coffee, I shared my profound discovery with my mom. She didn't seem all that impressed.
"We're all going to die, dear," she said, turning a page of the newspaper.
"I know that - of course I know everybody dies," I said impatiently, "But I don't mean everybody. I mean me! ME! I'm going to die, Mom. It's awful."
"Yes it is." agreed Mom, "Think of how I feel."
I looked at her. "Why? Do you think about it - about dying?"
"I think about death all the time," she said, matter-of-factly.
Until now, I'd never given a single thought to my own mortality and here my mom had been dealing with hers on a regular basis. And my mom is a healthy, vibrant woman. For that matter, so am I. But...
"Dying really sucks," I muttered bitterly.
A few days have passed and I'm still digesting the fact that I'm gonna die. It's changing my perspective. I don't think life is meaningless, but the fact that I'm going to die no matter what I do makes some things less important. Like dieting. I mean, since I'm going to be dead, shouldn't I enjoy McDonald's french fries while I still can? On the other hand, maybe it's time to take care of myself - get all holistic and healthy - to postpone that appointment with the grim reaper as long as possible.
And there are much bigger issues to rethink - like my relationships, my life's purpose, and how to dispose of 30 years of really embarrassing diaries. My inevitable death is confusing and upsetting. I'm not sure if I'm having a midlife crisis, an existential crisis or a divine revelation!
I know I'm not alone. Many of you, like my mother and my husband, apparently, have already come to grips with the fact that you (and by this I mean YOU, not everyone in general) are going to expire. I'm curious - when did you first gain this knowledge? Does it make you live more cautiously or with more abandon? Do you eat bacon?
There's actually a book about this subject called What's Your Expiry Date - Embrace your mortality, Live with vitality, written by Patrick Mathieu, a guy with serious heart problems who has been interviewed on Oprah & Friends by Dr. Oz. Mathieu says by accepting your mortality you can live a fearless, focused, regret-free life.
Sounds good to me, although I haven't actually read the book and probably won't get around to it. After all, life's just too damn short.