Old age is something I don’t like thinking about. As cliche as this may sound, there are some nights where I lie in bed, terrified of growing old. Losing my youth, having my health deteriorate and my skin sag, no longer being able to do everything I currently enjoy— these are just some of the things I fear. I think about my mom (in her 50s) and my dad (in his 60s) and wonder if they ever wish they could turn back time and be young again. I think I would, if I were their age.
And I don’t even want to imagine what life will be like when my folks are gone.
Most days, I feel like I am running out of time. There is so much I still want to do and there is always that nagging feeling that maybe it’s too late. Regret is an emotion I try not entertain, but I can’t help but think that maybe I should have done more earlier. It’s hard to put into words how paralyzing “too late” feels, but I’m sure most of us know what it’s like.
When you’re all caught up in your fears and insecurities, it’s easy to forget how good you actually have it. I often need a reminder on how lucky I actually am and to appreciate what I have because it’s way more than what others have.
In Jolly Feliciano’s short film, A Life In A Day, a terminally ill young boy is confined to his hospital room. From his bed, he sees the sun shine through his window and begins to imagine what life would be like if he weren’t dying. He meets a girl his age, falls in love, gets married, and experiences life as how most healthy, regular people will. In his imagination, he dies of old age with his daughter, her husband, and his grandson by his side. It’s the simplest, truest thing to want— to find someone to love and live. I have a list of things I want to do (e.g. go backpacking across Europe and Asia, build my own home from the ground up, be my own boss) but at the end of the day, it’s okay if I don’t have those as long as I get that.
The world is filled with stories of people whose lives are cut too short by circumstance. There are the victims of the tragic Aurora, Colorado shooting who went inside that movie theater not knowing it was going to be the last day of their lives. Or that mass shooting at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin; I’m sure none of the six victims thought they’d be dying that day. Or those Filipinos who died in the recent floods and landslides. It all started out as just another day full of promise for them.
The thought of the unknown is an even more paralyzing fear than growing old and living, before dying naturally. Sometimes, when I am on the road, I think: what if I get into a car accident or get run over and don’t survive it? What, then? What will happen to my cat (IMPORTANT)? How will my family cope with the expenses and the loss? It’s an ugly thought that I have to shake off before telling myself over and over again: I will die when I’m a saggy old bag of wrinkles, white hair, and stories to tell my grandchildren.
But you never really know when it’s your time. We all like to think about the future in terms of how good it could be, but we don’t like thinking about the very ugly and very real possibility of things not working out. So we simply choose not to deal with it. On top of being mentally and emotionally unready for this possibility, a lot of us— myself, included— are also financially unprepared for it. I have a long way to go before I am financially stable and I hate the thought of leaving my loved ones with nothing more than a ton of bills and heartache. The best we can do is to be ready for anything— be it accidents, health problems, or death.
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