Aging (4)

The rewards and detriments of aging notwithstanding, the final phase of aging is death. I try to push the thought away, but it won’t go away. How will I prepare?

The end of human life is inescapable for all of us. As mentioned earlier in this blog, we Americans are the only people I know of who avoid the subject of death. We never mention it. We write, live, and think as if it didn’t exist. But it’s still there.

I am comfortable in facing my end in one respect. I’ve led a long, happy, and productive life. I can be justly proud of the lives I saved during the fall of Saigon. I am gratified by my own performance during my five years of taking care of men dying of AIDS. I am fulfilled by my writing—four novels, several articles, and seventeen short stories now in print with two more books to be published early next year. I am at peace with the life I have lived so far. My expectation is that I will have more to be proud of before the end.

I earnestly wish that I had religious faith. That would allow me to see death as the end of one life and the beginning of another, far better life. I’m not so fortunate. I try, with every bit of my strength, to believe in God and the life hereafter. I pray every night in hopes that there is a God who hears me. I remain unconvinced.

So I am forced to conclude that death will mean the end of my existence. I am working, with mixed results, to find peace in that conclusion. Maybe by the time death arrives for me, I’ll accept it with tranquility. I’m moving in that direction.

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