Sunday, November 18, 2012

Living with my Mortality

It is a sad fact that death is a major part of life.The chances are that the longer you live, the more encounters with death you will experience. While ideally most of the people that a person will know that die will be old and have lived full lives, this is not always the case. The early death of young people was a topic of conversation in my life from a very young age. My father's brother, my Uncle Natan was killed in a car accident shortly after my birth. In fact my sister Natanya was named for our uncle. Growing up, we were both told many stories about what a wonderful and amazing person Uncle Natan was and how much everyone loved him. I remember asking my mom once when I was little if Uncle Natan was so wonderful and was not old, how come he died. I was told that god had taken him "because he was too good for this earth."

My next experience with someone dying "before their time" was sadly a childhood friend. When I was about 13 or 14 years old, I had a friend from the neighborhood who was 12 years old who died from cancer. Our families were close friends and I had known him for most of my young life. He was the nicest kid and everyone loved him. I remember when I was told that he had died once again being confused. How was it that such a good and young person could die? But then I remembered the explanation my mother had given me about my uncle's death and it seemed to make sense for my friend's death as well.

The next time death of a young person became part of my life was when I was around 15 years old. In this case, it is not an actual death, but rather the threat of death. As I have written about in previous posts that after a rabbi taught me that gay people deserve to die, I began to expect my own death all of the time. Whether in a plane going through turbulence, or in a car making a sharp turn, I would often think to myself, "this is when god is going to kill me." The thought of my early death became a regular part of my daily life.

The death of young people returned to my life in the summer of 2006 while I was serving in the Israeli Army during the war in Lebanon. While I knew 11 people that were killed in the war, there were 3 that I knew very well. The first was my friend Kobi who was 20 years old. We had completed basic training together. He was killed when his tank went up on a landmine. Next my friend Michael Levine who was a grade younger than me in our elementary school and we completed the Army's course for new immigrants together. Last was another friend named Ami that was in basic training with me. He was 22, newly married and expecting his first child when an anti-tank missile hit his tank and killed him. At this point in my life, I stopped asking for reasons and just accepted that we live every day under the treat of death.

And of course most recently I have suffered through the death of my parents, who were killed in a car accident. My parents were 51 years old, an age that may have once seemed old to me when I was a kid, but I now realize how young my parents were. I was also badly hurt in that accident and am still working on my recovery 2 months later. It is not lost on me, how close I came to being killed as well.

All of these experiences have lead me to have a very strong awareness of my mortality. I know that life can end at any moment. I also know that as things are right now in my life, I am not happy. The idea that I could die before ever having found my happiness is very scary and it motivates me to go out and find my happiness. I know the last time I felt truly happy was when I was in Vietnam. It is an amazing environment and culture that suits me well. I have met the most amazing friends there and even had some dating success during my short time there. I am sure that for these reasons, along with many other reasons, his is a step in the right direction for me. However, there are a growing number of obstacles that are delaying my departure and this causes me to worry.

What if something were to happen to me? I am terrified that the longer I delay my plan, the greater the chances I myself could die before having a chance to go. While I know this is not the right way to see life, after all that has happened, who can blame me for me for being so aware of my mortality? But the truth is that no one knows when their time will come. The chances of me dying are no greater than anyone else dying. I just have to keep searching for my happiness and hope for the best. And frankly, I am sick and tired of death and I am looking forward to being able to focus on life.


  1. seems to me u need to MAN UP and move on with your life.

    is it sexist to tell a gay man to man up? XD