|Luna one of the elder llamas|
I think because I have been so entwined with Nature much of my life I have looked at death like you might look at a season. Most people don't dread seasons, but many dread death.
I have a friend who is in her early seventies and was diagnosed with ALS last year. It stinks. To see her lose her ability to use her arms, drive, have strength to do simple things like pick up a book on the floor-it is hard to know she is going through it. But she is stoic and practical and a hero in my eyes the way she is dealing with it. I think when one is confronted with something like that-a disease or illness that is going to pretty much be the way you will die-it is different. In some ways, knowing how you are going to die could be a liberating thing. Dying when you are not ready, to me, is like being at a great family party, and you're just not ready to go and you are enjoying the company and you want to see how the party plays out, you don't want to miss one song or toast.
So when I say I'm not afraid of death, I am aware there are many things that are worse than death, like suffering, like pain, like abandonment at an old age, like losing total independence, like losing your mind...like falling on a hike and being lost for weeks and not being found-what are those last days like?
I think of death as an experience. And a surprise really. I imagine, or I often ponder this, that if you are aware you are in your last moments, it must be really a surreal experience. I wish we could know what people are thinking at that moment. When you are born, someone is there to catch you, hold you-you are not alone. You are not alone in the womb either. But when you die, chances are you can't communicate what is happening, you are alone with your thoughts.
The latter is interesting. As someone who writes and shares story and feelings, knowing I won't be able to share the last moments in a story seems challenging and isolating. On the other hand, I was thinking that because you are alone in your thoughts when you die, it must also be a beautiful gift to the self.
People talk of a good death. A good death is important to me as I care take my animals. I always strive for it, or yearn for it, and I'm always questioning if an animal needs to be helped on, or not. A good death is not always a perfect death. We are presented with things in life that might effect our death. But a good death I think must include awareness that is an experience of the self and soul.
It is something nobody can take from you-your own individual death.
When I watch Luna get older and older, she arrive here old and is now 22 or so, I want her to have a good death. I think Aldo had a good death, up on his hill. I hope for this for Luna. I don't tell her this, but I look in her eyes more of late and tell her that way, that I'm here and I will properly care for her body. To die under the old apple tree, that would be a good death for her. And it will be her experience.