Not a bad idea to talk about death
So, did you talk about death last Wednesday, like our governor suggested?
As the mother of a member of the soon-to-graduate Class of 2000, the first class eligible for the $10,000 Nevada millennium scholarship, I’m a big fan of Gov. Guinn but puzzled by this latest move – “It’s OK to talk about death day.”
I didn’t read the explanatory press releases Wednesday, although I did see one newspaper picture of a woman crying as she told about the death of her son, so I guess some people did participate.
I didn’t. I hate talking about death.
I mark the anniversary of my most significant death experience with my high school graduation. You see, I am the youngest of three children and my father Wilmur Freeman Lamb, bless his weak heart, hung on long enough launch us kids into the world.
The last one up the ladder, I graduated from high school in June 1970 and he died one month later, on July 10.
If I sound flip, I’m not. My life was never the same after that day. That summer, while my friends were off planning adventurous trips, jobs and college, I floated, like Casper the ghost, in a world with no sides, no top, no bottom.
I only remember grays and blacks from that summer of 1970, no greens or blues, or even my mother’s purple peonies. Being the cheerleader that I was, I tried to put on a happy face, but my heart hurt.
Who is to say that talking about death at that time wouldn’t have helped? It probably would have, but I stayed rah-rah, trying to keep the rest of my family afloat. Then, when no one was looking, I’d acknowledge the blacks and grays and crawl inside.
I’m probably no different than anyone who has lost a loved one. Once I read something to the effect of this – death is the great equalizer, we all have to face it, ultimately, alone.
And that is true for our own death, as well as those of loved ones. You can’t hire anyone to grieve for you.
So in about two weeks, I will stand, video camera aimed and focused, and watch my firstborn child, a member of the DHS Class of 2000 and a Millennium Scholar, walk across a stage for a diploma that will, I hope, launch him into the world in a kinder, gentler way than I experienced 30 years ago.
And a month later, I will attend my first high school reunion. I couldn’t face the 10th or the 20th, for fear that the summer of 1970 would haunt me.
But even cartoon Casper can learn how to smile and face the mean ghosts and goblins that lurk in the blacks and grays out there.
I still miss my dad, but in 30 years, I’ve learned that even the worst times of our lives are often followed by experiences that are so magical, so uplifting and ephemeral as the 1981 birth of a child of the Class of 2000 and the privilege of watching him grow and mature for the last 18 years.
Now, 30 years later, I also know that maybe talking about death isn’t such a bad idea after all.