"For them that think death's honesty - Won't fall upon them naturally - Life sometimes must get lonely" - Bob Dylan
I woke up this morning before dawn. Quickly, suddenly, violently awake.
I went to the doctor yesterday. I feel fine, but I wanted a thorough check-up. I'd never had one before. I've always felt healthy. So I assumed that that meant that I was healthy. But I'm 37 years old. Which isn't far from 40. Which means that I am a middle-aged man. So I figured I should go make sure that everything is in proper working order. I'm still waiting on the results from my blood and piss.
My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer early last year. My uncle, my dad's youngest brother, was diagnosed with lung cancer last month. Another uncle of mine, and another of my dad's brothers, died of lung cancer years ago. There is a fourth brother, and I doubt that he's healthy. I don't mean to sound cold, or overly pessimistic, but he's been drinking and smoking heavily for decades. And he doesn't get regular exercise. And all three of his brothers have been diagnosed with cancer.
The doctor checked my prostate. I'm younger than most men that are diagnosed with prostate cancer, but what the hell. We're in the doctor's office and they've got the gloves, so why not start shoving fingers in assess. Apparently the inside of my ass feels just fine.
So now I'm just waiting on my blood and piss. I get those results next week.
My dad's cancer has been removed. He keeps himself in good health, and the cancer was discovered early. He should be fine. My uncle's cancer is much further along. His road will be a tough one.
I was talking with my uncle about a week ago. The one that has been recently diagnosed with cancer. I started to tell him about my recent trip to Cleveland. I was beginning to tell him how much he'd enjoy the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame. And then our voices faded, and we moved quietly on to another topic. Its not that he couldn't make it there. But again, the road that lays in front of him is a tough one. And he'll need to choose his pit-stops carefully.
After the doctor checked my prostate, he said that I could probably set that concern aside until I was about 50 years old.
And that's the number that I woke up with this morning. That number, and the overwhelming truth that I could be dead by then. It may be the first time in my life that I was hit with the full force of my own death. The gravity, the inevitability, the immediacy, and the permanence of death landed on me clean and clear and undeniable.
I won't be here. I won't have these thoughts, or any other thoughts. I just won't be.
I was at home, in the perceived safety of my own bed. But for a moment, I was overwhelmed by fear and sorrow. A deadening sadness covered me like a lead blanket.
It seems a little absurd now. Like I'd considered myself immortal up until this morning. But it was real at that moment. For that moment, in my heart and mind, I may as well have already been dead.
I didn't jump out of bed and write a bucket list, or vow to make any drastic changes in my life. Nor did god speak to me. I just rolled over, bunched up the blanket that was under my head, and felt the cool breeze coming in from the window. But it's still sitting with me. It's still lingering.