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Monday, October 17, 2011

When It Ends...

Dominating the sports news yesterday and this morning has been the death of Indy Car Racer Dan Wheldon, 33 years old from Emberton Olney, England and a two time winner of the Indianapolis 500, including this year's Champion. His death is a huge story in the sports world and Internationally because he is from England and racing is popular world wide. Being the reigning Champion of the Indy 500 also makes this story huge.
Dan Wheldon killed in horrible IndyCar crash at Las Vegas
The sports channels were full of interviews with his fellow drivers, many of whom were caught up in the 15 car wreck that killed him. It was difficult to watch as the micro-phones were thrust into the faces of people who were clearly in shock and grieving. But it's their job so they all handled it with professionalism and good grace.

Death still affects me in a mysterious and profound way. I have always had kind of a bizaar fascination with it and was confronted with the deaths of several friends before I turned 18 years old. Being an active alcoholic/addict for 30 odd years brought me face to face with death and the prospect of dying many times over the years. As I have written here repeatedly, in the latter years and especially the LAST year of my active addiction I sought death as an answer to my problems. I could no longer deal with life and at some point had decided that dying and leaving the planet for good was my best option and my friend's and family's too.

I cannot say that I really ever was or am afraid of it...certainly today my perspective has really changed after my suicide attempt and my beliefs as a Christian. It seems perfectly natural to me and I accept it as part of life. Death is still an tough subject for many people. 

I have had three people pass away that I knew this year and for the first time in decades I started attending funerals again. One of the simple accepted facts of ministering to the elderly at nursing homes is people there frequently pass away. I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to deal with that but it's been fine. Those folks mean so much to me that I want to be there with them and I just accept that more then likely I'll be attending some of their funerals in the future as well. 

Another difficult and complex issue for me related to dying and my Christian beliefs is reincarnation. As this post from August this year details...I have believed in reincarnation all of my life. And what's more...I've always believed that I had lived before...I still haven't reconciled what I have always believed with what I believe now and it is, I will admit, troubling.

But there are a great many things in life that I do not understand so I am not going to get to hung up on this issue. I trust it will work itself out...

So my morning has begun with me thinking quite deeply about death and dying...not in a morbid or spooky fashion but in a realistic and practical happens. It still brings up thoughts of those people I have know who died...that can be the most difficult part is thinking about some of them and the circumstance by which they died.  It's easy to label death by addiction as waste...a wasted life but I don't agree. At least I no longer agree...there are many important lessons to be gleaned from their passing...and I also think there was a great deal of value in their living as well. 

It's just hard at times to separate our own selfish feelings of loss, it's too easy to think about that and not what they gave us in life. And so I think about that today as far as Dan Wheldon's young family is concerned...his wife and two small boys.