|Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Since today is known as Day of the Dead in some cultures and we're in the scary Halloween season, I've been running a series of sort on my blog Tossing It Out about the topic of death. It's not a topic that many of us like to contemplate, but it is a part of life for all of us. After you've finished this essay at Wrote By Rote I hope you will continue on to my post at Tossing It Out to vote on my Battle of the Bands offering for the first of this month. Yes, it's a song about death.
During my childhood I did not have many direct encounters with death. When I was very young--about 4 or 5--my aunt died. Since I never was around her the loss didn't register much for me though I was concerned about my mother's distraught state after it happened. The thing about that death that I remember the most was that my aunt and uncle lived in a nice house and had a color television set--a rarity in the mid-1950's.
Sometime around those same years I found my mother crying one afternoon and asked her what was the matter. She said our family doctor had died. He didn't seem all that close to me and my family so I didn't understand her sadness. He was just a guy that I went to see when I was sick or getting checked up and sometimes he'd give me a shot, which I did not like at all.
Years of childhood went by during which I'd get wind that someone my parents knew had died or maybe some relative whom I had no recollection of ever having met. If my parents had gone to any funerals during those years it was an event that eluded me. I'd seen graveyards and funeral homes, but never went to any of those kinds of places.
The first time I ever saw a dead body was when I was still in high school. It was in a car accident. I was riding in the back seat with my parents and we passed a car that appeared to have been in a minor fender bender at an intersection. There did not appear to be much damage to the car, but in the back seat nearest to the side that I was sitting on was a man with his head leaning against the window. He appeared to be merely resting or perhaps unconscious, but there was a great deal of blood splattered on the window. I was puzzled about the amount of blood as the man appeared to be generally uninjured. In fact, I didn't even realize he was dead until I read about it in the paper the next day. The accident must have just happened shortly before we came upon it because the other occupants of the car, including some children seated near the man, were just sitting in the car with dazed confused looks. None of them appeared to be hurt, but just uncertain about what to do. And the man was dead. I didn't even realize he was dead and maybe the people with him didn't know it yet either.
Since that first direct encounter with death I have experienced the deaths of friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members. I've been to many funerals and sent off many cards and messages of condolences to survivors. As I grow older death has settled in as a frequent visitor to remind me of my own mortality. Death will eventually come for me one day, but I'm certainly in no hurry. Take your time, o death, I'm not ready to go anywhere with you. Not quite yet.
Have you had many encounters with the death of loved ones in your lifetime? When was the first time you actually saw a dead person? Do you think about your own death or is this a topic that you try to avoid?
Hope you'll stop by to vote on my Battle of the Bands post at Tossing It Out. Thanks!