For a while, Don Ashford was playing a song quite regularly on KTRT, our quirky local radio station, called “We’re All Gonna Die.” As I was trying to find the song, I was astounded that there are many songs with that title and theme; so many, that there is a top ten list of “we’re all gonna die” songs.
The version that Don played was a catchy tune that you couldn’t help but sing along. In fact, the artist demanded that you repeat a little louder: We’re all gonna die, we’re all gonna die, we’re all gonna die, we’re all gonna die — put your head out the window and yell — louder — let ’em hear you — we’re all gonna die.
I thought, how morbid. But, true.
I don’t have family reunions to attend, but my husband does. The first time I went to our hometown in Montana for his reunion, there were several members of the generation that brought us forth there. Five years later, only one or two of them were there. This past summer, we were the top of the heap. Babies were bouncing everywhere, while the “old” folks talked about their knees that didn’t work, their back pain, new hips, and cataract surgery. “We’re all gonna die” began to pound a little louder in the eardrums.
My mom used to say, “All my friends are gone.” She outlived them all. Now, visiting with friends and family, we frequently talk about who isn’t with us any longer. At my last class reunion, our homecoming queen was the life of the party. When asked for high school memories, she stood up, confident as ever, and read a litany of memories that we had all but forgotten. We laughed till we cried. Shortly thereafter, she became another unlucky recipient of deadly cancer and now Janet is gone. The next reunion won’t be the same without her.
The family reunion experience made me ever aware of mortality. I was sure that I was not the only one, so dug deeper for research on “death awareness.” It turns out that some researchers have found that “the prospect of death is often scary, (but) it can also have positive effects.” These researchers concluded: So the next time you face a haunting reminder of your death, remember that focusing on what you would like to leave behind could help you turn something terrifying into a positive motivational tool.
Visiting ailing siblings and hearing stories from friends of unidentified diseases and infections that can’t be controlled is a sobering reminder that “we’re all gonna die.” So, enjoy the sunsets. As Tim McGraw sang, “Live like you were dying.”