It is an odd thought – dying in your sleep.
Pyjamas, tooth brush, perhaps a few pages of a novel and no more.
Your eyes close and at some point, in the night, heart stops.
This is what it is to be alive.
Precarious, a tightrope of existence or not.
The mechanism of death – what kills you, is not important; if successful, the aftermath is for others to work-out, come to terms; grieve.
As any of us at any point, could be spending our last day on earth; we need to reflect on what is important.
Yes, there are the big things – the far-off goals that require investment; training for the marathon, your children’s education, dog vaccination; but within the immediacy of what would be left, your short-term, no-notice legacy, there is not a great deal.
If I went today, or, tonight, would I be ready?
Now, I have no plans, and I very much hope the lights-out night will come to me only in 50-odd years’ time, but in the interim, what if?
Something akin to this happens to some of my patients when they are admitted to hospital – sure, many are sick, for others, things have just gone a little wrong, off the boil, plans awry. Perhaps a fall, funny-do, episode of short-lived breathlessness or chest pain and they’re in. In hospital, in a bed.
The moment at which my patient slips, ambulance arrives and, within a complexity of ageing, frailty and multi-morbidity, becomes stuck in the hospital, in a room, a bed, a bay, and, the system takes over.
And, that old man or woman, who hours before was pottering to the loo is now in on a journey through the complexities of a health system that few understand, with a destination of 24-hour care; never returning to their own bed or kitchen.
Just as they didn’t expect to never see their home again, so with the individual who slips-away in the night; there is no advance planning, no pre-preparation.
Some of us might have life insurance, but how about insurance assurance?
And here I come to the point at which these two concepts intercept – the unpredictability of life, the unexpected turns we are subjected to by fate and, the congruence of fatality.
And the point?
Well, the point I suspect is doing our best to make every moment count; to ensure that what we are doing now adds value or substance to our future, so that if or when we are taken, we accept with humility our allocation of life, without an excess of regret.
Do now, build for the future; don’t create monstrosities that you’ll regret and, don’t put-off to tomorrow, what could have been done last week or year.
Get on and suck the most out of the moment; seize the zest.