Friday, April 28, 2006

my so-called life...and eventual death

I recently had a girls’ night out with four friends, one of whom was in town from the west coast. One of the girls had brought a camera, and a few photos were taken. They looked great on the digital, but when she sent them to us, and I opened mine on the computer, there was one shot of me that…well, it kind of shocked me. Because of the flash, and the darkness of the bar, my very pale skin stood out in the photo. And I saw something I hadn’t expected – the early signs of aging skin. I hadn’t truly seen it myself when looking in the mirror at home. I suppose this was a true case of shedding some light on an issue. (Yes, that's it, but I kept the photo small so no one else would see what I saw.)

Now, it didn’t look horrible, but it was clear that the skin on my face, neck, and upper chest was rougher, not to mention more wrinkled, than the rest of my body, from years of exposure to the sun. All this time, I’ve always worn a good sunscreen when I knew I’d have to be out in the sun for any length of time (I don’t tan – I freckle, burn, or blister – there are no other choices), but not on a daily basis. And that daily basis had taken its toll. I need one of those microdermabrasion processes, to take the top layer off and start over again. They make home kits, but as sensitive as my skin is, I’d probably do permanent damage – I really should see a skin expert. Something else to save money for.

The thing is, this isn’t all about the visual, the looks. Although yes, that meant something to me. I mean, I do have a bit of a complex about my looks that tends to lead to me telling myself things like ‘who am I to set my standards so high’ in seeking a dominant – I mean, look at me. But that’s another post entirely.

This was something else – looking older reminded me that I get older every day. And aging leads to death. And that is something that I have a very hard time with. I am agnostic, really – I have no sincere belief an afterlife of any kind, and that makes death final. And the thought of ceasing to exist, in any conscious form, well…it terrifies the fucking hell out of me. Enough so that when it does come into my mind, I have myself a mini, itty bitty little panic attack. It hits me full force, the finality of it, and my breath quickens, my heart beats, the savage beast awakens…and then it ends, goes away. And I go on with life.

One might think that these thoughts come with age, that I’ve hit ‘middle age’ and my mortality has become more of a reality. But that would be an erroneous assumption.

I remember being in about the third grade or so, standing at the sink doing dishes (yes, I was my mother’s maid, even at that age…I did it all…hell, I was even required to massage her feet with lotion in the evening…which really made me her service submissive, didn’t it…probably why, to this day, I hate the scent of the lotion she used, still uses…and hate the whole foot worship part of submission…I should make that a hard limit, I think).

Digression aside, there I was doing the dishes, and this thought, unbidden, entered my head – what is it like to die? And as I stood there, I stopped washing, deep in the thought, and began to feel that feeling I still get today – a dizziness washed over me, I felt as though I were floating just above the ground – outside of myself, and looking down at the me washing dishes at the sink, my heartbeat rapid and hard in my chest. My mother entered the room then, and I began to come down, and I asked her that very question: what is it like to die? And she laughed it off, and said, of course, ‘no one knows till it’s their turn.’ Called me silly, and other things, as she tended to do. I think that making me feel stupid was her life’s goal, and she succeeded marvelously. Yes, it is perhaps not surprising that I will not allow a female dominant to top me in this thing called bdsm.

And then, I go back even further, to a much younger me. We had traveled by train to Tennessee (from the west coast) for my mother’s father’s funeral. I must have been about five, as the man I called ‘daddy’ was no longer in the picture, and the second father, the wicked, evil man who loved nothing more than to fuck people over and beat the shit out of them, had not yet entered.

My mother, grandmother, and everyone else were using the term ‘passed away’ just as liberally as the word ‘die’ during our visit, to describe what had happened to grandpa. And it wasn’t said in any particular manner, just a fact. They were deeply religious, in a southern, nondenominational, but strict kind of way. Death was considered a blessing in most cases, so I hadn’t heard anything (that I recall anyway) that would make me particularly fearful of death.

We were in a five and dime store, shopping – me, my mother, grandma, aunt Linda – and I began to feel a bit faint. I found my mom, whose subsequent offhand comment ‘you might just be feeling like you’re going to pass out, you haven’t had anything to eat,’ followed by a command to sit down in a corner and stay out of the way, had interesting effects. Beyond the idea that a five year old was stuck wandering around a store on an empty tummy, well…think…to a five year old…how similar the terms ‘passed away’ and ‘passed out’ are. And imagine what thoughts formed in my child’s mind. Yes, I thought I was dying, and shockingly, no one around me seemed to care. I sat, and that feeling hit me – floating, quickened heart beat, the feeling of being outside of my body and looking down upon myself – sitting there in the corner of the store, people milling about around me, ignoring me. And then I came back to myself, and I began to cry. My mother asked why, and I sobbed ‘I don’t want to die.’ The word scramble was explained to me, and there ensued a general discussion among the adults, who all managed to laugh at me for my confusion and make me feel quite small indeed. I had been fucking terrified beyond belief...and they laughed at me.

I’m not going to delve into a philosophical discussion of death, not here and now, and probably not ever, as that would keep the thought in my mind and make me crazy. And I don’t have those little panic attacks at the though of death all the time, just occasionally. I don’t share them with my friends, I deal with it internally. If I can sit and think about it for several minutes, I can actually convince myself that when I am dead, I obviously won't consciously 'know' it, and therefore shouldn't fear it. But still, I have every intention of living just as long as I can possibly eek out this existence we call life. I hope to hell that at 46, I am only at my halfway point. I have no intentions of going anytime soon.

11 comments:

WistfulWench said...

And I was going to say that I thought this was a GREAT picture of you! It actually shows just how beautiful you are!

You have one of the most infectious smiles I have ever seen. And your eyes! Pictures can never do justice to how gorgeous your eyes truly are....

Spring said...

omg, thanks wistful! I didn't mean to say I didn't like the photo in general, it was just what it showed me, that I hadn't seen before, that's all. Actually, compared to some of my other photos, this one's pretty darned good. (I'm not a very photogenic person, so I take what I can get, lol.) :)

fellahere said...

Spring, that's an amazing story to remember about passing, passed. That's interesting to read this aspect of your life's thoughts, yes it is, thank you for writing it for us.

It is a really nice picture. Your eyes look happy when surrounded by a those cheekbones and a friendly smile. Catching you looking up and straight into the camera has a nice effect too, *laughs and hums*. Like I said, nice picture.

ladyk73 said...

You are so pretty

Cala Lily said...

Caught up at last!

That's a gorgeous photo, spring. You're a beautiful woman.

First, I think what happened to you as a child doing dishes is that you had a seizure. Lots of people have only a single seizure and never have another. I've had seizures that were very much like what you described.

I'd tell you your mother is a bitch, but I know well that there is a really good chance that such a statement will trigger in you some need to protect and defend your mother, so I'll just tell you I would say it, but I'm not going to.

So don't do feet. Where is it written that you have to do feet?

I've written a lot today. It may seem very jarring, since the comments have been prompted from vastly differing posts, but I want to leave you with a clear statement that I care about you, and want to be there for you, and want to be your friend. You're an amazing woman and I feel honored to "know" you.

Spring said...

fella, it's amazing what the mind of a child can come up with on their own, isn't it?! Thanks for the complement. :)



ladyk, hello, and thank you for saying so. :)



lily,

Defend my mother??? Not a chance! (Is there really a defense for the havoc she's wrought in so many lives?) The one positive I can come up with when thinking of her is that she showed me exactly what NOT to do when I had kids of my own. (Did I mention my kids can't stand grandma?)

A seizure...now that's something I hadn't thought of.

And thank you for the complement. Can't get enough of those. :)

Spring said...

Oh, and not jarring at all, lily, I know your comments come from your heart. :)

infinitesimal said...

OK:

Concerning old looking skin....

Microderm abraision treatment at home (they are cheap)
or ANY exfoliation (St. Ives)
use a toner (witchhazel is cheap)
followed by some good lotion (Clinque?)
and then the secret weapon!!!!!:

ready?

MEDERMA skin care for scars....
slather it on your face and neck, and rub it in.

in the AM, skin is firm and smooth like a baby's ass.

Buy the generic version of Mederma at wallgreens and save about 10 bucks

It is worth it!
It works!!

PS:
got your note about the fart sniffer...
just freaking out over APA papers at the moment... so did not respond yet.

PPS:
you look about 23 in that photo.

Spring said...

infini, you know, I mentioned the mederma to rugrat, and she said she remembered hearing about it on some news show we were watching one night. Now, you would think the minute wrinkles were mentioned, I'd have been all over it, but I missed it completely. And she, who zones out my news shows while on the 'puter, heard it all.

I'll be checking that out real soon!

Spring said...

Hey, wait...did you say 23?????

You're my new best friend. :D

infinitesimal said...

Yeah, I sed 23,
and i meant it!

And I sent the Mederma folks an email regarding the wrinkle/skin connection.
I guess they just never bothered to say thank you.

But at least the word is out.

Thanks for being my new best friend. I could use one.

Do the Mederma thing at night and see the diff in the morning!