Day of The Dead celebrations got me thinking.

I know what death feels like now. 

I’m not referring to what you feel like when you have an accident. In a serious accident, you are resigned to your body being broken, and not functional, therefore you may decide to leave the body behind, and move on. The adrenalin is trying to keep the body alive, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Ergo dead.

What I’m referring to is gradual, over years. The cycle of life is: birth, growth, decay and death. 

I mean “you”, as separated from your body.

In the first stage, birth, you are getting used to your new body. You learn to manipulate it, and control your environment with it. It can be pretty cool, if you are not suppressed too much by your parents or older siblings.

In the second stage, growth, you increase the range of your control. This is when you learn new exciting things, and find yourself expanding into new arenas of life. This is the adventure phase of your life. Your body is strong, and you have no fear. You feel indestructible.

In the third stage, decay, you have matured, and are operating your body successfully, except you find you cannot quite do what you used to do effortlessly, when you were young. They call you mature.

In the fourth stage, death, your activity shrinks. You take it easy. You rest more. You are a senior citizen. Young people offer you their seats on the bus. This stage can be gradual, or all of a sudden. The end of this activity is the loss of the body, and your ability to control your environment.

If we look at “you”, as if “you” were a cloud surrounding your body, we find something interesting.

At birth, the cloud is small and you are not too concerned with the events outside your crib, you are too worried with getting food, and getting rid of your dirty diapers. You cry a lot.

During growth, you are interested in everything around you. Because you feel indestructible, your cloud expands accordingly. You fall in love. You can control people and things at great distance. To many, these are the “good old days”. 

During the early decay stage, you are not truly aware of your limitations. You tend to think you can still “cut it”. If you are lucky, and have prepared well, you still can — to some extent.

The last stage, death, is quite interesting. You know yourself much better. You have access to memories of this life, and in many cases dwell on these memories too long. Memories only, because life now is not quite as appealing as you hoped. You remember obscure moments of your childhood with precise detail, but cannot remember what you ate last night. 

However, during the last stage, if you look closely, you will find that your “cloud” doesn’t reach much beyond the reach of your extended arms. If you are smart, you won’t try.

This is the stage when you write your memoirs, and live vicariously through your writings.

This is the stage when you encounter fear of another kind. Fear that you wouldn’t accomplish what you wanted to. Fear that you didn’t communicate what you hoped, to your loved ones. Fear of what was left unsaid, or undone. Fear that it’s too late. 

This is the stage when you realize that the world will continue in this everlasting pattern, long after your body is no longer part of it. 

Death is the gradual awareness of the absence of “you”.  

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