Dying One Cell at a Time: Living during a Pandemic.
I marvel daily at the luck of the life and times I have lived. I know that never in human history, have humans of my age, in my country, Canada, had a better, richer, safer life. My peer group have never faced, to any degree, the four horsemen of the apocalypse of war, flood, famine or pestilence. We were too young to experience WW2. Can anyone my age name another country anywhere in the world that would have been a better place to have grown up in and raised a family. Having travelled to many countries in Africa and Asia I have witnessed the aftermath of many catastrophes of war and famine. My last trip, one year ago, to the remote Lake Turkana, Chalbi Desert area of Kenya, is currently being ravaged by a locust invasion of epic dimensions, as well as a cholera outbreak and Covid 19 concurrently. Canada, never in my lifetime ever faced such national catastrophes. Yet billions in my lifetime, around the world, have suffered one or more of these epic catastrophes, from genocides, chronic wars and catastrophic natural disasters like tsunamis. Now I am living one of them with no end in sight. We have yet to see the spread of this virus through Africa, South Asia and the Middle East.
For the first time in my life, and my loved ones, I feel threatened by this pandemic, which is outside of my control. My heart bursts every night at 7 as the cacophony of shouting, cheers, clapping and banging of pots, honour the front line medical workers fighting the spread of Covid 19.
Yet each new day is a splendid bonus I never expected (or deserved). During this pandemic, death is everywhere. The endless evolving charts of deaths by country, deaths per cases, old age homes ravaged, deaths by province, spikes, flattening the curve, packing plants, deaths per 100,000.
They all mirror my own cellular death, as I track and treat my failing organs. I monitor and drug, my chronic and advancing kidney disease, my bladder cancer (still in remission), my ablated heart, thinning hair, declining hearing and eyesight, my sheets of crepey skin, my arthritic joints, some early signs of dementia. I know I am a mortal time bomb and one breath away from death by this Covid 19 disease …. or by a fall, hip fracture, a heart infarction or Kidney failure. It’ll come fast for sure.
Is it odd to say I have never felt better? I’ve never been happier? My brain tells me it is so.
I am buoyed in my 84th year by love of family, 58 years of marital "semi-bliss" and the rewards of such a privileged life in Canada. I’m happier than I have ever been holed up with my life partner. I fear not death, I fear not depression. Even though I am oft reminded of my failures and mistakes, I am rewarded with memories of the successes of my children, successes in schools, enriched and touched by thousands of students, and by people I have met on my travels, in over 100 countries.
I dream I’m walking backward through a tunnel that gets narrower and narrower, as the circle of the bright light of reality I look out at, gets smaller and smaller, yet ever more luminous and brilliant. That life-giving luminous light is filled with breath-taking vistas of familiar places and faces. It is a kaleidoscope of images of a life fulfilled. Like a lightening-bolt, it pierces my heart with love. The shrinking circle of light buoys me, supports and sustains my last journey. "The journey is home". I know I was part of our expanding universe at the beginning some trillion years ago, but never has my life shone as brightly as in this life and I know it will flicker for some years to come, just as I know my matter will exist forever. What joy, what a life!