Bon Voyage, my friends.

My friends die at an alarming rate.

These community leaders poured love into family, community, jobs and churches.

And now they are gone. And we grieve their passing.

When my friends die, I check actuarial tables. The pink columns for women tell me that at my age I have 11.3 years of life ahead of me. The bad news is that I know these years will dash by at hurricane speed.

As veteran worrier at age, I pondered the meaning of death. Where will I go when I die? What is heaven? What is hell? What is eternity? The concept of eternity gave me the heebie-jeebies.

Then as a young adult, I asked “What if there was no afterlife?’

Back then I could reassure myself that death was a long way off. Now it lurks around the corner of a decade.

Because I am healthy now—knock wood—I struggle less with the concept of death than I did as a child. But if my health falls apart, the seven year old within me may erupt again.

But for the most part now that I am older, I am more at rest with these mysteries.

What brings this peace?

Many things. Living a long life. Loving and being loved. Seeing photos of the cosmos from the Hubble Space Telescope. Watching birds migrate across bright blue skies. Listening to crunch of autumn leaves underfoot.

If we listen, we can hear concerts of compassion in the cosmos. I heard this music when Marge Schafer called on a Saturday morning in 2009 and said she wanted to donate her kidney to Bill.

The universe tangos with mystery and beauty. This is not to say that there are no burdens on this earthly journey.

But I am comforted by the wisdom of the philosopher and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin who tells us:

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

I hope Teilhard’s words bring a measure of comfort to those who have lost loved ones.

Bon voyage, my friends!

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6 Responses to Bon Voyage, my friends.

  1. JoyceCC says:

    This is a difficult aspect of life at our age.

  2. brunoE says:

    Val, I loved your article, and can relate to your feelings through many of my dearest friends [who are a 'little' older than me and you know who you are :-)], my parents, and my own personal beliefs. I am approaching 60, but when I was younger I firmly grasped the thought and gut feeling that I was not to be long for this plain of existence. For many years I did not think I would make it past 50, but here I am. I am at the point that it does not matter what happens to me when I die, but as you iterate above it is how you love, share, wonder and show compassion that is all that matters. The Pierre Teilhard de Chardin' comment is spot on. My dad refers to this as his "last quarter, or two minute warning in my case".

    • Valerie McCullough says:

      Hi Bruno,

      I like the way your Dad phrases it…Yep, it’s the last quarter. but what a great game it’s been.


    • Valerie McCullough says:

      Hi Bruno,

      I like the way your Dad phrases it…Yep, it’s the last quarter. but what a great game it’s been.


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