HOW DO YOU WANT TO DIE?

HOW DO YOU WANT TO DIE?

Sometimes
my living
and my
dying
get all mixed up.

Sometimes I ask myself
“How do I prefer to die….
Sooner? Later?
Here? There?”

These fantasies and realities
of living and dying
become more poignant
more pressing,
more precious,
more necessary,
as I pass my years.

I have two choices:
to ignore it
(“and get on with my life”)
…. or confront it
(and actually hallow my reality).

I made the latter
choice some years ago,
while reading
Old Age
by my mentor, Helen Luke.

Now,
I am just beginning
to see
my own
dying and death
as normal
and inevitable
and very worthwhile
for me.

My, how aging mellows things!
Well,
I cannot escape it,
that’s for sure!

While in the depths
of a relentless ten-year
dark night of my soul
era
I awakened one night
sweating and
in deepest anguish
as I heard myself
saying aloud,
“I want to die
before morning comes;
The pain of my
existence is
simply too heavy
to bear.”

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SMOKE THAT CIGARETTE

SMOKE THAT CIGARETTE
 
My dad smoked 
two packs a day
every day of his entire life
since he was a
teenager.
 
My mother smoked
two packs a day
since she was a
young woman.
 
That equals
four packs a day.
Our house
was well smoked.
 
Throughout 
their lifetime
every closet,
every towel,
every foot of carpet,
every room
reeked with the
rancid
familiar 
smell.
 
My daddy 
proudly and playfully
sat me
on his lap
and entertained me
by blowing 
smoke rings
so I could
put my finger 
through the 
hole.
 
My dad 
was proud manager  
of our small town
picture show;
every day 
before the show started,
popular country songs
were played
on the raspy PA system.
One of the top-ten hits
was Willie Nelson’s
“Smoke! Smoke! Smoke!”
Folks sang or hummed
as they blissfully puffed: 
 
“Smoke smoke smoke that cigarette 
Puff puff puff 
And if you smoke yourself to death 
Tell St Peter at the Golden Gate 
That you hate to make him wait 
But you just gotta have another cigarette.” 
 
Beset by multiple
life-threatening diseases
caused by 
smoking addiction,
I sat by my aging father
through nine
excruciating nights
as he dreadfully faced
his fragile mortality.
He talked about
his fear of dying
and 
how much he
loved my mother
and 
how much
he loved
us four boys.